Last week it was the discovery of T Rex’s “bizarre” cousin that made news and this week it is a different cousin of T-Rex that is on top of media finds with its bat-like wings.
The fossils, discovered by a farmer in his field in the Qinglang county of Hebei province in China, will help to shed new light on the evolution of flight, scientists said.
Paleontologists in China said the impeccably preserved fossil belongs to a small dinosaur thought to have lived 160 million years ago.
“This is really something for me. It is the most unexpected discovery I ever made,” professor Xing Xu from Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, who led the work, was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.
“This dinosaur is totally different. It has totally different wings from all other birds and their close relatives,” he added.
The new dinosaur had unusual bristle-like feathers and bat-like wings that were covered in a membrane.
Scientists believe the dinosaur, which they have named Yi qi — meaning ‘strange wing’ – may have glided or even flown through the air.
But unlike modern birds, Yi qi was found to have a strange extra bone extending backwards from its wrist, rather like an entirely separate group of animals that learned to fly: Bats.
“Birds are descended from dinosaurs, but how exactly the transition occurred is not really clear,” Xing Xu said.
Most winged avian dinosaurs to be discovered so far all have wing structures that are similar to those of modern birds.
However, Yi qi, which is pronounced ‘ee chee’, appears to be a weird hybrid between a dinosaur and a bat.
“Still, we are left in a quandary: an animal with a strange structure that looks as if it could have been used in flight, borne by an animal that otherwise shows no such tendencies,” Xing Xu said.
“And so far, there is no other plausible explanation for the function of this structure,” he concluded.