Tiny Feathered Dinosaur: Flown or Windblown

The discoveries of ancient fossils in the fossil beds of China dating back to the Jurassic age in the last two decades have led to new discoveries of dinosaurs that provided enough information to even possibly rewrite textbooks.

Recent discoveries by Chinese research team lead by Dr.  Xu Xing and Dr. Zheng Xianoting of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing and Linyi University in Shandong Province respectively may have altered widely – accepted facts about dinosaurs’ ancient origins.

The discovered remains belonged to the previously-unknown species of an undefined group of dinosaurs known as scansoriopterygids – small in size – that were related, though not directly, to prehistoric birds. The remains were found to have feathers but are too little to be useful for flight. The team also noted the shaft-like bone extending from the body to the two wrists of the animal, bowed to possibly provide support to a membrane – possibly for gliding or flying. This was proven to be possible as the extending bone had traces of membrane tissue patches, similar to those of flying squirrels and bats.

The discovery of the 160 –million-old feathered dinosaur from Middle Jurassic period in the Northeastern part of China and later examinations of the team showed evidences that these animals may have experimented with flying on featherless wings and were later unsuccessful.

From the findings of the Chinese research team, Integrative Biology Professor Kevin Padian from the University of California, Berkeley said that ancient dinosaurs’ attempt to “conquer” the skies had graduated from strange to the bizarre.

The team named the newly-discovered fossilized dinosaur as Yi Qi (pronounced “eechee”), in Mandarin meaning “strange wing” and may possibly be the shortest dinosaur name given to discovered dinosaurs. According to Dr. Xu, among the discovered birds or dinosaurs, this fossil has a set of wings different from the rest. In this situation – the transition from dinosaurs to birds – it is still unclear whether this set of wings were for flapping or gliding but this set of wings is quite unique.


Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/30/science/small-jurassic-dinosaur-may-have-flown-without-feathers.html?_r=0






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