Dino Discoveries: Ornithomimus edmontonicus
The origins of winged flight is a hotly debated topic in paleontology. A study published last year in Science suggests that wings and feathers may have evolved in dinosaurs earlier than previously thought. When researchers took a closer look at several fossil specimens of Ornithomimus edmontonicus, they found winglike forelimbs and hundreds of traces of filaments suggestive of feathers. Ornithomimus belongs to a group of dinosaurs that appears in the fossil record millions of years before maniraptorans, the group of feathered dinosaurs that survives today as birds, the findings hint at even earlier evolutionary origins of wings and feathers.
O. edmontonicus was no flier, however. The researchers estimate it weighed 150 kilograms (330 pounds), so it’s wings more likely served some other function, perhaps in courtship or brooding.
Image: Julius Csotonyi (above)/Royal Tyrrell Museum (below)
(via: Wired Science)