Monday, February 25, 2008

Discover the "X-Wing" Dinosaur - tonight on PBS

It sounds like the winning entry in Google's X prize, but "X-Wing" is actually just a very cool name for a dinosaur - also called the "Four-Winged" dinosaur and, more scientifically, the Microraptor - that sheds new light on the origins of flight.

It's got four wings. Which puts it in the running for coolest dinosaur ever. And it's the subject of a new documentary on PBS tonight, Tuesday 2/26 at 7 p.m.

If you miss it, you can watch the whole thing online starting Wednesday. Since it's a NOVA project, you can also find lots of interesting extras on the show's Web site - see fossils of the other creatures that lived alonside the Microraptor in Liaoning and experiment to figure out how microraptor used its second pair of wings. The Producer's Story gives interesting background into how they chose to tell this complicated story.

Visitors to HMNS might also remember seeing a Microraptor gui fossil and a fleshed-out model in the Liaoning diorama of Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries, a recent special exhibition from the American Museum of Natural History.

So - coolest dinosaur ever? Or just a prehistoric ostrich? Check it out tonight and let us know what you think.