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This four-winged dino may have molted like modern songbirds

Fossilized plumage suggests a small, four-winged dinosaur that lived 120 million years ago may have shed its feathers like modern songbirds do, Science News reports. The plumage—three short feathers tucked amid much longer ones—could be the first evidence of a nonbird dinosaur molting. Songbirds lose only a few feathers at a time in a strategy known as sequential molting, which allows them to take flight yearround. This new finding suggests Microraptor may have done the same, researchers reported this week in Current Biology. The fossilized feathers—which could push back the history of molting by 50 million years—also support the idea that the dino was a strong flyer, frequently taking to the air to find food or evade predators.

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