A strange detour in the evolution of flight

yi qi retouched yi qi schematic retouched yi qi dramatic illustrationYi qi is the name of this newly discovered, crazy-looking, 12-ounce feathered dinosaur.

It’s related to other winged theropods, only, it seems to have evolved bat-like wings.

The evidence: a long, rod-like bone extending from each wrist (styliform elements labeled ‘rse’ and ‘lse’ in the diagram), and patches of membranous tissue preserved between the rod-like bones and its three fingers. This arrangement is unknown in any dinosaur but something like features seen in flying squirrels and some fossils of early bats, gliding rodents, and pterosaurs, say the scientists who reported the find in Nature.

Not everyone is convinced that this animal could fly, or even glide. But  Xing Xu and co-authors say it certainly “highlights the extraordinary breadth and richness of the evolutionary experimentation that took place close to the origin of birds.”

Source: A bizarre Jurassic maniraptoran theropod with preserved evidence of membranous wings, by Xing Xu and others, Nature

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