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Yi qi, bizarre new bat-winged theropod from Jurassic of China

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Xing Xu,  Xiaoting Zheng, Corwin Sullivan, Xiaoli Wang, Lida Xing, Yan
Wang, Xiaomei Zhang, Jingmai K. O’Connor,  Fucheng Zhang & Yanhong Pan
A bizarre Jurassic maniraptoran theropod with preserved evidence of
membranous wings.
Nature (advance online publication)

The wings of birds and their closest theropod relatives share a
uniform fundamental architecture, with pinnate flight feathers as the
key component. Here we report a new scansoriopterygid theropod, Yi qi
gen. et sp. nov., based on a new specimen from the Middle–Upper
Jurassic period Tiaojishan Formation of Hebei Province, China. Yi is
nested phylogenetically among winged theropods but has large stiff
filamentous feathers of an unusual type on both the forelimb and
hindlimb. However, the filamentous feathers of Yi resemble pinnate
feathers in bearing morphologically diverse melanosomes. Most
surprisingly, Yi has a long rod-like bone extending from each wrist,
and patches of membranous tissue preserved between the rod-like bones
and the manual digits. Analogous features are unknown in any dinosaur
but occur in various flying and gliding tetrapods, suggesting the
intriguing possibility that Yi had membranous aerodynamic surfaces
totally different from the archetypal feathered wings of birds and
their closest relatives. Documentation of the unique forelimbs of Yi
greatly increases the morphological disparity known to exist among
dinosaurs, and highlights the extraordinary breadth and richness of
the evolutionary experimentation that took place close to the origin
of birds.



Kevin Padian (2015)
Palaeontology: Dinosaur up in the air
Nature (advance online publication)