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Hind wings gave four-winged dino flight control

Much-debated rear wings could have given Microraptor extra help in airborne maneuvers

RALEIGH, N.C. — A rethink of four-winged dinosaurs suggests that the much-debated hind wings stayed tucked under the body until deployed in the air for tight turns to dodge branches or chase prey.

Just what a dinosaur did with well-developed feathers on all four of its limbs has been a puzzle since the 2003 unveiling of roughly 130-million-year-old Microraptor gui fossils from northeastern China. The first reconstruction showed the small dinosaur gliding in the air with all four limbs extended outward. A later proposal lowered the hind-limb feathers for a Wright-Brothers biplane of wings. Both arrangements have drawn criticism.

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