Pre-Cursor of the Bat?: Discovered in China

Life reconstruction of the bizarre membranous-winged Ambopteryx longibrachium. (Artwork by Chung-Tat Cheung / Min Wang / Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology / Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Editor’s Note: Imagine finding a well preserved skeleton that still had the contents of its last meal and fuzz that it wore.This would offer a good picture of what this creature was like back in the Jurassic Period….Carol

A delicately preserved skeleton surrounded by a splash of fossilized fuzz, with gut contents still inside the body cavity,

Newly Discovered Bat-Like Dinosaur Reveals the Intricacies of Prehistoric Flight

by Riley Black


About 160 million years ago, in the depths of the Jurassic, feathered dinosaurs started to take to the air. Clawed arms that had evolved to snatch and catch began to take on a new aerodynamic role, and feather-coated limbs began flapping as the earliest avian dinosaurs overcame gravity to leave the surface of the Earth behind. But not all fluffy saurians launched into the air the same way. An unexpected discovery from China reveals an enigmatic family of dinosaurs with bat-like wings.

The first of these dinosaurs, given the adorable moniker Yi qi, was described by paleontologist Xing Xu and colleagues in 2015. While the small dinosaur had a coating of fuzz, its wings were primarily made up of a membrane stretched between the fingers and body. The dinosaur’s wings were more like those of bats, which wouldn’t evolve for more than 100 million years, or like the leathery wings of contemporary flying reptiles called pterosaurs.

Yi was unlike any dinosaur ever found—until now. Chinese Academy of Sciences paleontologist Min Wang and colleagues have just named a second bat-like dinosaur related to Yi in the journal NatureAmbopteryx longibrachium.

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