A team of researchers has recently announced the discovery of a new species of dinosaur. The unknown dinosaur puzzles the experts with its strange body, which is a combination of a bird and a bat.
The newly discovered prehistoric animal, named Yi qi, which translates as “strange bird” in Mandarin, was a small dinosaur species that had feathers and lived during the Middle Jurassic period.
The creature’s fossils were discovered in China and according to the paleontologists who discovered it, the dinosaur was preserved with a full coating of feathers.
The dinosaur is a distant relative of modern birds, said the researchers.
However, unlike other species of flying dinosaurs and bird ancestors, this species of dinosaur had a very strange pair of wings.
The animal had unusual feathers on its arms and fingers and a very large bone on its wrists that extended backwards.
Between this bone and its fingers, the flying dinosaur had a soft-tissue membrane that resembled the wings of modern bats.
But experts believe that Yi qi is not actually a direct bird ancestor nor did it have anything to do with the origins of modern bats.
However, the dinosaur experts believe that the creature’s unusual wings are a good example of convergent evolution.
Professor Xu Xing, a researcher at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing and one the authors of the study, explained that the newly found species of dinosaur had wings that evolved in a unique manner, compared to other species that evolved from dinosaurs to birds.
Yi qi belongs to a family of small dinosaurs known as the scansoriopterygids. This group of dinosaurs consists of two other known specimens and not much is known about their lifestyle or biology.
But researchers find it remarkable that this animal, which is close related to other species of dinosaurs that had large feathers, would try different ways of flying.
No one really knows for sure how this animal used its wings for flying. Because of the incomplete fossils, the experts believe the animal either flew or glided, just like modern mammals, such as some species of squirrels or lemurs.
Professor Xu says that he is not really certain if this species of dinosaur used its membrane-like wings for flapping, for gliding or for both. But he believes that the size of the animal (not bigger than a pigeon) would have permitted it to have some sort of aerial way of locomotion.
Image Source: theguardian