How did birds fly in the air? Is this flapping behavior related to its ancestors, the dinosaurs? The flying potential of small-scale animal-footed dinosaurs suggests that bird flapping may have multiple independent origins, according to the latest scientific research by Chinese and foreign scientists. Wings flying with wings has long been regarded as one of the most iconic features of birds. Although fossils of some non-bird dinosaurs suggest that they may have a flight pattern similar to that of birds, the evolution of flapping wings in birds and their close relatives is still to be studied.
(Original title: Dinosaur snares: Birds flap their wings or have multiple independent origins)
The evolution of near-bird system development trees with some flight-related features. (Research team for picture)
The wing load and take-off power of small animal-footed dinosaurs. (Research team for picture)
Reporter 10 from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Paleovertebrates and Paleoanthropology was informed that the Xu Xing team led and jointly with the University of Hong Kong and the University of Argentina, the United States and Britain researchers, using the implied weighting method system analysis updated the system development tree of the virtual bone dragon, on this basis, through quantitative analysis shows that the flapping wing flight in near-bird dinosaurs may have three or more independent origin, this important achievement of the paper has recently been published online by the international academic journal “Current Biology.”
The evolutionary history of the small orthopod dinosaurs of the Mesogens has had many evolutionary convergence phenomena, resulting in some uncertainty in the results of its systematic development analysis, according to the research team member and the paper’s co-first author, Yu Rui, an associate researcher. As a framework for exploring evolution, the uncertainty of system development limits the accurate analysis of the evolutionary history of morphological functions such as the origin of bird flight.
Based on the expansion of the evolution matrix of virtual-bone dragons, this study uses the suggestive weighting method for morphological features in systematic analysis, and reduces the uncertainty of the analysis results caused by giving weight to different features to reduce the results of evolutionary convergence. The results of this system analysis re-support the single-series claw-like dragons consisting of Chilongando and Wounded Dragon, while the near-bird dragons are at the base of the bird wing, the chi-dragon members of the early Cretaceous Hot River biome in China, and the West Paw Dragon in North America are classified as single-series dragons.
Based on the new system development tree, he said, the team quantitatively analyzed the potential of dynamic flapping wings of early bird wings with wings and near-birds close to their relatives. In the study, the two indicators of wing load and take-off dynamic were selected, and the relevant fossil species and ancestral nodes were numerically estimated and reconstructed.
The results show that most of the early bird wing species and some non-bird dinosaurs (little dragons and air-to-air dragons) met the reference numerical standards of the wing load and take-off power of the living flying birds, that is, the potential of dynamic wing-flying. In addition, the wing load of some small non-bird dinosaurs reached the reference value of the living flying birds, but the take-off power is insufficient, and other groups, including the larger animal-footed dinosaurs, two indicators did not meet the standard of flying birds.
The latest research supports the origin of several independent wing-flying events by animal-footed dinosaurs, identifying at least two possible power flight origin events outside the bird’s wings, while the wing load and take-off power of a series of non-bird dinosaurs are close to the reference numerical criteria for living birds, he said. The study suggests that many non-bird-footed dinosaurs are likely to have been exploring two-wing-assisted motion patterns, and some of them have successfully flapd their wings and flown into the sky. However, the specifics and patterns of the independent origins of these flights need to be further studied.