Chinese scientists have unearthed the fossilised remains of a flying dinosaur with never-before-seen membrane wings similar to those of a bat.
Named ‘Yi qi’, Mandarin for “strange wing”, the fossil was dug out of 160 million-year-old dirt and was thought to have a 60-centimetre wingspan and a body weight of slightly less than 400 grams.
“This is one of the strangest animals that I’ve seen in the fossil record in years,” University of Maryland palaeontologist Thomas Holtz Jr told Nature.
“It’s raising a lot more puzzles than it’s solving.”
A rod-like bone extending from each of its wrists connected to bat-like membranous tissue.
The team from the Chinese Academy of Science who found the fossil (believed to belong to a group of small feathered dinosaurs called scansoriopterygids) were unsure if it flapped, glided or did both.
Or ‘Yi qi’ may not have flown at all.
“The temptation to associate these membranes with flight may be misleading,” said Professor Holtz.
The findings were reported in scientific journal Nature.