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Volume 569 Issue 7755, 9 May 2019

A clash of wings

The cover image shows an artist’s impression of the newly identified dinosaur Ambopteryx longibrachium. Described in this issue by Min Wang and his colleagues, the fossilized remains of Ambopteryx date to the Upper Jurassic period some 163 million years ago. Ambopteryx is a scansoriopterygid, a group of dinosaurs that are generally reconstructed as small, feathered arboreal climbers, with very long hands and fingers. But Ambopteryx is different — it is the second scansoriopterygid to be found with evidence for both feathers and bat-like membranous wings supported by an accessory bone called the styliform element. The first such specimen, Yi qi, was identified in 2015 and sparked a degree of controversy for its membranous wings. The discovery of Ambopteryx shows that Yi was not alone and raises the possibility that scansoriopterygids in general may have had bat-like wings in addition to feathers.

Cover image: Chung-Tat Cheung

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