Anchiornis, meaning “near bird”, is a genus of small, feathered dinosaur. The type species A. Huxleyi is named in honor of Thomas Henry Huxley, a scientist known for his early studies in the biological evolutionary relationship between birds and dinosaurs. The type specimen was described by paleontologist Xu Xing in 2008. The remains of Anchiornis were discovered in western Liaoning, China in sedimentary lake deposits. The age of the dinosaur is uncertain, but it is likely that it lived during the Cretaceous or Jurassic Period.
The specimen recovered consists of a near complete skeleton missing only the skull, part of the tail, and the right forelimb. It is estimated that the individual would be 13.25 inches in length and weigh only 3.88 ounces. This would make it the smallest known non-flying dinosaur. It had long extremely long forelimbs in proportion to its size. Although Anchiornis was not a flying animal, the long limbs were made specially for avian species. It is possible that Anchiornis was able to glide or possibly fly, and may have had a functional airfoil (wing or flap). The hind limbs, however, were more proportionate to lower theropod dinosaurs than avian dinosaurs. Faint carbonized feather impressions were found in the specimen but were too poorly preserved to make a good detail of their structure.