The discovery of two small dinosaurs with bat wings a few years ago was a paleontologist’s dream. Just how flight evolved in birds is something we’re still trying to nail down, and watching this early evolution of bat-like wings in dinosaurs might give us a clue.
But a team of researchers has now pointed out that just because you have wings doesn’t necessarily mean you’re really good at flying.
Yi qi is Ambopteryx longibrachium are two species of theropod dinosaurs that lived about 160 million years ago, both with unusually elongated fingers and a skin membrane extending between them, resembling a bat’s wing.
This is a completely different type of wing than the theropod dinosaurs evolved to fly with: the dinosaurs that eventually became birds. And, unlike them, after only a few million years, Yi is Ambopteryx became extinct, which is the first clue that these unusual wings could not match future birds.
However, strange wings on extinct creatures mean that more types of wings (and therefore flight) are likely to have evolved over the years, and that Yi is Ambopteryx ‘S. attempts were not the winning strategy.
But before you can cancel Yi is Ambopteryx as a complete failure of evolutionary flight, you must know how good (or bad, as the case may be) the two species were in flight.
In 2015, when Yi It was discovered, that team of researchers suggested that the size of its wings and other flight characteristics could mean it was a creature in flight, however it is unlike any other glider we know of and its center of mass may have made it difficult too. gliding. We just weren’t sure.
A new study, conducted by researchers in the United States and China, has now looked at the flight potential of Yi is Ambopteryx in much more detail and come to the conclusion that they weren’t really good at taking their little feet off the trees they lived in.
‘Using laser-stimulated fluorescence imaging, we re-evaluate their anatomy and perform aerodynamic calculations covering flight potential, other wing-based behaviors and gliding capabilities,’ the team writes.
“We find it Yi is Ambopteryx they were likely arboreal, highly unlikely to have any form of powered flight, and had significant deficiencies in wing-flapping locomotion and limited gliding capabilities. “
The fossil team’s analysis (Yi pictured below) was able to detect small details in soft tissue that you can’t see in normal light.
So the team modeled how dinosaurs could fly, adapting to things like weight, wingspan, and muscle positioning (all of which we can’t tell from fossils alone).
The results were … disappointing.
“They can’t really do powered flights,” says lead author, biologist Thomas Dececchi of Mount Marty University.
“You have to give them extremely generous guesses as to how they can flap their wings. Basically you have to shape them like the biggest bat, make them the lightest, make them flap as fast as a very fast bird, and give them muscles higher than they probably should have crossed that threshold. . They could glide, but their glide wasn’t great either. “
So, according to Dececchi and his team’s model, we’re seeing noticeably worse flight abilities than a chicken, perhaps worse than the flightless New Zealand parrot, the kakapo, which is also mostly limited to gliding from trees, but can at least slam. to control the descent.
But even if it’s a little sad for the Yi is Ambopteryx, that’s good news for us: the results give even more evidence that dinosaurs evolved in flight (or at least tried) multiple times.
As the team points out, considering all sorts of bats, gliders, flying squirrels and other gliding or flying mammals, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“We propose that this clade was an independent colonization of the aerial kingdom by non-avian theropods. If true, this would represent at least two, but more likely three or more flight attempts (both powered and gliding) by small pennaraptoran theropods during the Mesozoic, ”the team writes in their paper.
“Given the large number of independent occurrences of gliding within corona mammals, this should perhaps come as no surprise, but it creates a more complex picture of the air ecosystem.”
Some things seem not to change much, even in a hundred million years.
The research was published in iScience.
This article was originally published by ScienceAlert. Read the original article Here.