Strange ‘Bat-Winged’ Dinosaur Discovered In China

Chinese scientists have revealed their discovery of a bizarre new dinosaur which had bat-like wings, a species that they believe may help explain the evolutionary links between birds and dinosaurs.

The remains of the dinosaur were discovered by a farmer in northeast China, encased in rocks from the Jurassic period, according to CBS News. The new species has been named Yi qi, which means “strange wing” in Mandarin, and paleontologists say that it belongs to a group of dinosaurs known as scansoriopterygids. Related to small, primitive birds, scansoriopterygids were previously believed to be flightless dinosaurs.

The research team which examined the Yi qi believed it to be incapable of flight at first. Though the dinosaur was found with feathers, they were too small and insubstantial to be used in such a manner. The scientists then uncovered a rod-like bone that extended from each of the dinosaur’s wrists, similar to structures in the wings of bats and flying squirrels. Not found in other dinosaurs of the same group, the bones indicated that a different kind of wing may have been utilized by the species.

Xu Xing of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing, one of the authors of a new study on the dinosaur published Wednesday in the journal Nature, noted that the specimen highlights the complexity involved in the evolutionary transition between birds and dinosaurs.

“Yi qi lived in the Jurassic, so it was a pioneer in the evolution of flight on the line to birds,” he said. “It reminds us that the early history of flight was full of innovations, not all of which survived.”

Though the dinosaur possessed membranous wings, Xu pointed out that researchers are unsure if it was able to flap them, most likely moving through the air by gliding, as CNN reports. While the dinosaur’s remains are currently held at a museum in Shandong Province, Xu also asserted that the next step in understanding the species would be to seek out other specimens.

Thanks to numerous construction projects and widely available funding, China has seen an uptick in recent dinosaur-related discoveries. As the Inquisitr previously reported, a road construction crew recently uncovered a number of dinosaur eggs, dozens of which were intact.

Despite the species’ evolutionary failure, Xu also noted that the bat-winged Yi qi was one of the first dinosaurs to display any ability to fly.

[Image: Dinostar Co. Ltd via Twitter]