Protarchaeopteryx, meaning “before Archaeopteryx,” is a genus of feathered theropod dinosaur from the Aptian age of the Early Cretaceous Period (124 million years ago). It was found in the Jianshangou bed of the Yixian Formation in what is now China. It was most likely more primitive than Archaeopteryx, making it a non-avian theropod dinosaur rather than a true avian bird.

Protarchaeopteryx was about 3.3 feet in length, making it larger than Archaeopteryx. It had symmetrical feathers on its arms, which when compared to modern non-flying birds with symmetrical feathers, the Protarchaeopteryx would have not been capable of flight. Also, its skeletal structure was not built to support flight.

It had well-developed, vaned feathers extending from its short, stubby tail. Its hands were long and slender, and it possessed a wishbone. It appears to be one of the most primitive members of the Oviraptorosauria. Its large incisor teeth suggest Protarchaeopteryx was closely related to Incisivosaurus. It was probably an herbivore or omnivore; although its hands were very similar to those of small carnivorous dinosaurs.

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