Beijing: A team of paleontologists in China have discovered a new species of feathered dinosaur that roamed the earth around 125 million years ago.
The three-feet fossilised skeleton, named Jianianhualong tengi, is a troodontidae -- a family of bird-like theropod dinosaurs.
The species had large feathers on the fore limbs, hind limbs and tail suggesting that the closest common ancestor of birds and bird-like dinosaurs had asymmetric feathers, extending their earliest record deeper in time, the researchers said, in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications.
The feathers on the tail had a frond-like arrangement, similar to the genus of bird-like dinosaurs -- Microraptor, Anchiornis and Archaeoptery.
The tail feathers were also asymmetric, with one side of the feather vane noticeably wider than the other.
"This indicates the closest common ancestor of birds and bird like dinosaurs had asymmetric feathers, extending their earliest record deeper in time," lead author Michael Pittman, Earth scientist at the University of Hong Kong, was quoted as saying to the dailymail.com.
"This study therefore makes important steps towards reconstructing the early evolution and function of asymmetric feathers," Pittman added.
The discovery is highly significant in reconstructing both the skeletal and integumentary evolution of troodontidae, the researchers noted.