Origin of flight

Could ‘four-winged’ dinosaurs fly?


Arising from: X. Xu et al. Nature 421, 335–340 (2003); F. Zhang & Z. Zhou Nature 431, 925 (2004); X. Xu et al. reply; F. Zhang et al. reply

Our understanding of the origin of birds, feathers and flight has been greatly advanced by new discoveries of feathered non-avian dinosaurs, but functional analyses have not kept pace with taxonomic descriptions. Zhang and Zhou describe feathers on the tibiotarsus of a new basal enantiornithine bird from the Early Cretaceous of China1. They infer, as did Xu and colleagues from similar feathers on the small non-avian theropod Microraptor found in similar deposits2, that these leg feathers had aerodynamic properties and so might have been used in some kind of flight.

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Correspondence to Kevin Padian.

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Padian, K., Dial, K. Could ‘four-winged’ dinosaurs fly?. Nature 438, E3 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04354

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