Robot Dinosaur Feathers Robopteryx
Researchers at Seoul National University built robot dinosaurs to study how their feathers might have worked. Called Robopteryx, this robot is modeled after the fan-tailed omnivore Caudipteryx and may one day uncover the origins of birds’ wings as well as tails.

These “proto-wings” may have worked as insect nets, prevented their prey from escaping, while enabling long hops / gliding as well as warming the animal. Or, these feathered appendages were used to put on threatening displays to flush insects and other prey from their hiding places. To test these hypothesis, the researchers put Robopteryx in front of unsuspecting grasshoppers and made the robot perform different wing / tail moves.

We have chosen Caudipteryx as a representative of early Pennaraptoran dinosaur. We always very carefully and slowly positioned the robot near a grasshopper without startling the grasshopper to flee,” said Professor Piotr Jablonski, Bhavioral Ecologist at Seoul National University.