Bat-winged dinosaur fossils found in China: report

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-5-1 9:39:46

Some of the factory’s dinosaurs look a little extinct. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Chinese scientists have discovered the fossil of a small dinosaur with bat-like wings that might have been able to glide short distances, according to a Nature report published Thursday.

The fossil remains of Yi qi (meaning strange wings in Chinese), which lived around 160 million years ago, was unearthed in northern China's Hebei Province. It belongs to the scansoriopterygids, a group of small dinosaurs that have only been found in China, and is closely related to the lineage that ultimately gave rise to birds.

The dinosaur had rod-like bones extending from each wrist, similar to those found on flying squirrels and bats, said Xu Xing, a researcher at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing and lead author of the report.

However, it is the first time this bone structure has been seen in dinosaurs, he said.

Xu said the bones might have helped support wing membranes that Yi qi used to glide or fly, adding that small patches of membranous tissue were found clinging to the bones.

Nonetheless, researchers said Yi qi would not have been a competitive flyer, but may have glided only short distances between trees.

"Yi qi was a pioneer in dinosaur flight evolution and a reminder of how different limbs of the evolutionary tree ended up at a dead end in the early history of flight," said Zheng Xiaoting, co-author of the Nature report.

Posted in: Discovery

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