Tuesday, September 29, 2009
(image pinched from here)
Alternate title: 2 wings good, 4 wings bad.
Flipping through Septembers edition of the journal Nature - vol 461 (7264): 640–643, if you must know - I flipped straight to the paper about a fossil dinosaur that has been found with 4 wings.
A few years back a paleontologist was fondling a fossil arm bone from a small raptor like dinosaur when he noticed bumps arranged in a particular pattern and separation that suggested they were the remnants of the attachment points for feathers. Specifically flight feathers. His find led to alot of further scrutiny of existing collections and we very quickly learnt a great deal more about the origin of birds and feathers. We now know that they adorned the hides of most raptors (think small front legs, long running hind limbs and big teeth - like a t-rex).
Well preserved feathers have been identified on Gigantoraptor, a 1.5 tone 70 myo ostrich like behemoth and a Microraptor, Microraptor gui which had feathers on both it's arms and legs. But a new find in China earlier this year has clarified some of the early stages in wing development. It seams that 4 wings was the norm for these early gliders and that, to nobodies surprise, birds are derived from Troodontidae.
Not found on good shit.