Published: Fri, March 03, 2017
Science | By Kerry Wheeler

Scientists Reconstruct Appearance of Four-winged Dinosaur Using Laser Imaging

Scientists Reconstruct Appearance of Four-winged Dinosaur Using Laser Imaging

In a new study, researchers focused the technique on the Anchiornis, a small feathered dinosaur that lived in the late Jurassic period.

The process involved a new technique called laser-stimulated fluorescence (LSF). The laser beams fleshed out a novel view of the long-extinct animals, revealing their drumstick-shaped legs, bird-like arms, and a long and slender tail. The species was discovered in 2009, but many details about the dinosaur remain a mystery, including one lingering question asked by scientists: did the creature walk or fly? Chinese feather fossil may hold key to 130-million-year-old questionPast studies on the dinosaur's ability to fly drew clues from its bones and feathers, according to Xu Xing, the discoverer of the species who is based at the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Pittman said, 'The best way to refer to Anchiornis is as a basal paravian, an early member of the group of dinosaurs that includes birds and the bird-like dinosaurs that share their closest common ancestor with birds'. "The laser images show that this non-bird dinosaur had wings that were remarkably similar to those of living birds, down to the soft tissues".

The studies reveal the accurate outline of the bird-like Anchiornis. These lasers make soft tissues like skin and muscles glow in the dark.

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Scientists used the method on fossils of the dinosaur Anchiornis, a four-winged, feathered dino that was located in China around 160 million years earlier. Some scientists thought it could glide, while other disagreed due to its flight feathers not being well-suited for flight.

They noticed how Anchiornis had a shallow area of soft tissue placed in front of the elbow (the propatagium). The findings have paved new paths for Palaeontologists to get new outlooks regarding the origin of birds and the growth of wings. Anchiornis used to has extremely long legs, which is a clear indication that they were powerful runners.

"What our work does underscore", Pittman told National Geographic, "is the broad extent to which bird-like dinosaurs were experimenting with their anatomy and functional capabilities before we had the first unequivocal gliding and flying birds".

Anchiornis was a feathered dinosaur that resembled modern birds in terms of plumage and foot scale.

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