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Cryptovolans (Arizona Museum of Natural History)


Cryptovolans (Greek for "hidden flyer"); pronounced CRIP-toe-VO-lanz


Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (130-120 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 3 feet long and 5-10 pounds



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long tail; feathers on front and hind limbs


About Cryptovolans:

True to the "crypto" in its name, Cryptovolans has occasioned its share of disputes among paleontologists, who aren't quite sure how to classify this early Cretaceous feathered dinosaur. Some experts believe that Cryptovolans is actually a "junior synonym" of the better known Microraptor, a four-winged raptor that made a big splash in paleontology circles a couple of years ago, while others maintain that it deserves its own genus, mainly because of its longer-than-Microraptor tail. Adding to the mystery, one scientist insists that Cryptovolans not only merits its own genus, but was more evolved toward the bird end of the dinosaur-bird spectrum than even Archaeopteryx--and thus should be considered a prehistoric bird rather than a feathered dinosaur!

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