In 2017, a farmer from northeastern China (Wubaiding village) found a fossil that turned out to belong to a dinosaur. But Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Min Wang knew there was something special about this specimen.
After a complete analysis, Wang and his co-authors reached an exciting conclusion: this was a new type of dinosaur. In their paper titled “A new Jurassic scansoriopterygid and the loss of membranous wings in theropod dinosaurs,” published on May 8th in Nature, they added details about the creature’s body.
Wang looked at the remains and noticed traces of quills on the dinosaur’s neck. It had a stubby tail, but what really made him shout was when he saw the left arm: “I shouted, and my heartbeat elevated.”
Two Bat-Winged Dinosaurs
Wang realized that he was looking at a bat-winged dinosaur! Should we just call it a dragon? The scientist named the new species “Ambopteryx longibranchium” which stands for “both wings, long upper arm” in Latin.
However, there was another bat-winged dinosaur also discovered by a farmer in northeastern China. This one was described by Xing Xu and Xiaoting Zheng in 2015 and received the name Yi qi, which stands for “strange wing” in Mandarin.
The two discoveries are essential for learning more about prehistoric flight – and it adds proof to the evolution of dinosaurs that slowly grew fuzz, feathers, and then wings, giving rise to birds.
Talking about this fantastic discovery, paleontologist Michael Habib (the University of Southern California) concluded that “paleontologists have hoped that something similar might show itself to either confirm or refute the interpretation of Yi qi.” Thankfully, it was the latter.
However, the Ambopteryx-style wing was part of the evolution that didn’t leave descendants. Instead, Pterosaurs thrived with the leathery wings that evolved into the feathered wing to later be seen in today’s dinosaurs, the birds.