Could ancient birds fly? A 125-million-year wing gives the answer. The wing was recently discovered in central Spain.
The research was made by Guillermo Navalón, a student from the University of Bristol and revealed the fact that ancient birds had the possibility of doing aerodynamic feats that resembled the nowadays birds. In other words, it is possible that these birds flew over dinosaurs.
Birds have a long evolutionary background. The oldest one, Archaeopteryx, lived almost 150 million years ago in nowadays Germany. Nevertheless, scientists couldn’t establish if these birds could fly. Based on the found wing, Guillermo Navalón, along with a team of researchers, tried to answer this question.
The wing preserves not only bones, but also remains of plumage. The fossil displays a complex arrangement of fibers which resembles pretty much the modern birds. This arrangement gives them the possibility to adjust their position while flying, which means the ancient birds could also fly.
“It’s very surprising that despite being skeletally quite different from their modern counterparts, these primitive birds show striking similarities in their soft anatomy,” said Navalón.
Dr Luis Chiappe, Director of the Dinosaur Institute, also added that the correspondence between the fibers of the old wing and those which can be found in modern wings shows that early birds could fly pretty much like the actual ones. However, a precise manner of flying still remains a mystery.
Jesús Marugán Lobón, co-author of this study, stated that this kind of fossil represents a window to past times and gives scientists the possibility of finding out more about the birds’ evolution.
The study was entitled “Soft-tissue and dermal arrangement in the wing of an Early Cretaceous bird: Implications for the evolution of avian flight” and was published in Scientific Reports.
Image Source: Wikimedia