A new dinosaur with wings resembling bats has been discovered in China, shedding light on how the evolutionary dinosaurs become birds.
A dinosaur fossil specimen was found in Liaoning Province, northeastern China, in 2017 and confounded scientists in the classification, Mr. Min Wang - paleontologist and author The main author of the study published this week describes the new dinosaur, said. This species of bat-winged dinosaur is called scientifically called Ambopteryx longibrachium .
"It is nothing more than a bird. Nothing shows like a dinosaur," Wang said. "But further studies show that this is, in fact, a small therapod dinosaur with a front paw and a unique membrane."
This 163-million-year-old fossil is the second specimen to show a bat-like dinosaur, although this trait is only seen in flying squirrels, bats and winged dinosaurs (pterosaurs).
Another bat-like dinosaur, also discovered in China, called Yiqi, was discovered in 2015 and caused debate among paleontologists.
"Some people do not believe in the fossil record of Yiqi species. Soft tissue is not easily preserved in fossil records," Wang added.
Paleontologists have reported that soft tissue has been discovered in the fossil of Ambopteryx, providing additional evidence that the new dinosaur has a modern bat-like shape.
However, Mr. Wang said it is unlikely that the small dinosaur, which is 32 cm long and weighs about 306 grams, could flap its wings freely like modern birds or bats.
"I think this dinosaur can only hover in the air. What makes them unable to flap their wings is because there is no sternum," Wang pointed out.
Both Yiqi and Ambopteryx belong to a small dinosaur genus called scansoriopterygids . China has been at the forefront of many of the latest dinosaur discoveries, especially the fossil fossils that show a direct link between dinosaurs and birds.
Most impressive discoveries were made at the fossil site where the Ambopteryx fossil was found in Liaoning province.
Here, 100 million years ago, dinosaurs died massively, after a series of massive volcanic eruptions, leaving a treasure trove of preserved fossils with unprecedented levels of detail.
Wang said that bat-like wings are capable of "a failed evolutionary experiment" that later other flying dinosaurs evolved into feathered wings.
"So far, all known bat-wing dinosaurs originated in the late Jurassic period - this unique winged wing structure did not exist in the Cretaceous. I hope we can find more than these dinosaur specimens to learn about the dinosaur's transformation into birds, " Wang said.