Microraptor zhaoianus is known from several specimens collected in western Liaoning Province, China. However, several aspects of the morphology of Microraptor remain unknown or ambiguous due to poor preservation of the described specimens. A well-preserved new specimen of Microraptor zhaoianus is described in this study. This specimen preserves significant morphological details that are not present or are poorly preserved in the other Microraptor specimens including aspects of the skull, the rib cage, and the humerus. These new characters corroborate Microraptor as a member of the Dromaeosauridae as previously suggested and support the close relationship of troodontids and dromaeosaurids (Deinonychosauria). The morphology of the rib cage also suggests Microraptor and the early volant avialans very likely may have shared a similar mechanism to assist respiration.
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Vol. 2014 • No. 3821