It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a four-winged bird?
Xing Xu, a paleontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, believes that he has discovered the fossil of a four-winged bird in Liaoning, China.
Xu believes that it may have been common for birds to have four wings instead of two millions of years ago. Two of the wings acted much like modern bird wings while the other two helped the birds steer and glide. Xu said that this may be the simplest form of flight and noted that the Wright Brothers used four wings on their Kitty Hawk Plane.
The research team studied 11 fossils from different groups of birds dating back 150 million years. The birds had two normal wings as well as stiff feathers on their legs. Xu claims that this is actually a second set of wings that “either provided lift, or created drag, or enhanced maneuverability or a combination of all of these functions.”
According to Xu, ancient birds primarily lived in trees and that they didn’t spend a lot of time running on the ground. Xu explained saying that the four-winged birds lost their second set “primarily because of the evolution of two different locomotion systems in birds — arm wings for flight and legs for walking and running.”
Here’s an artists recreation of what one of these birds, a Sapeornis, may have looked like.