Scientists Have Created The Most Accurate Ever View Of A Dinosaur

Phillip Butler
March 3, 2017

It boasts numerous skeletal and soft tissue characteristics found in birds. The body sample, created by the researchers is giving an unprecedented look at this fathered 160 million-year-old giant creature.

The work revealed that the ancient dinosaur Anchiornis had legs shaped like drumsticks, a slender tail, and feathers that may have helped make the dinosaur more aerodynamic.

However, they were unable to tell if this dinosaur could actually fly, or if it merely scampered around on the ground or climbed trees. The creature also had propatagia, or membranes, that "could produce a relatively straight arm, a posture broadly found in many living gliding birds", the study says. This technique directs lasers of high power towards fossils placed in a dark room.

Archaeopteryx, which lived in Germany about 150 million years ago, long has been considered the earliest-known bird.

"We shone violet lasers at Anchiornis specimens in a dark room to cause them to glow in the dark, revealing unbelievable details", said Michael Pittman of the University of Hong Kong, who co-authored the study in Nature Communications.

The technique-called laser-stimulated fluorescence (LSF)-involves sweeping laser light across a specimen, which highlights otherwise invisible details on objects. The skeletons scientists dig up from the ground are seldom complete, and soft tissues like organs, muscle, or skin nearly never survive into the present.

"Some scientists believe it could glide based on the long, robust and feathered arms - wings - it has, but others disagree because its flight feathers are not well designed for flight", said study co-leader Xiaoli Wang, a paleontologist at Linyi University in China, according to Reuters.

The lasers revealed soft tissues that were previously unseen, lying alongside the bones, Pittman explains. The findings have paved new paths for Palaeontologists to get new outlooks regarding the origin of birds and the growth of wings.

Anchiornis didn't necessarily fly, of course. Some of them suggest that it could have been able to glide, while others think its feathers were not suitable for flight. While it did not have a bony breastbone or short tail skeleton, it did have foot scales like a chicken. It had small, sharp teeth like those of the earliest birds, and may have eaten small animals like lizards.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

Discuss This Article