A “strange” new species of bat-winged dinosaur discovered in Hebei province has been called “an evolutionary dead end” by scientists.
Researchers have estimated that the bird-like dinosaur, fossils of which were discovered in China 10 years ago, existed for only a brief period around 160 million years ago during the Jurassic period. The dino, named Yi qi (“strange wing”) weighed around 230 grams and measured 63 centimeters in length.
Yi qi is one of the first known dinosaurs to show some capacity for flight, although its design was a bit of an evolutionary flop, according to a new paper published in the scientific journal Nature on Wednesday.
Xu Xing, the lead author of the paper and a paleontologist with China’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology, explained in a CNN report that Yi qi’s wings were made from membranes, similar to the wings of a bat. Other flying dinosaurs’ wings are believed to have been composed of feathers, and these dinos are what ended up becoming the birds we see today.
“It’s a failed experiment, it’s an evolutionary dead end,” Xu said in the report, adding that it was unclear whether the dinosaur actually flapped its wings or merely used them to glide along (like Batman).
“Over the last 30 years, there were so many discoveries made that demonstrate birds are really descendants of dinosaurs,” he added. Unfortunately, Yi qi was not one of them.
China is a goldmine for architectural finds. Just weeks ago, 43 dinosaur egg fossils were unearthed at a construction site in Guangdong province. Last May, scientists identified a new species of dinosaur related to the T-rex after fossils were found in China years before.
[Image: Dinosaur Co. Ltd]