Our best idea of what a Dinosaur Looked Like

Scientists unveiled new details about the wings of the bird-like dinosaur Anchiornis.

An advanced laser imaging technique reveal unseen details about dinosaur Anchiornis, like folds of skin in front of the elbow and behind the wrist.

Above, illustration by Julius T. Csotonyi

The body outline and soft tissue details suggest significant functional decoupling between the legs and tail in at least some basal paravians. The number of seemingly modern propatagial traits hint that feathering was a significant factor in how basal paravians utilized arm, leg and tail function for aerodynamic benefit.

Researcher Michael Pittman told National Geographic:

“The fact that we find this really neat wing in an older bird-like animal is really exciting.

In our opinion, it should be in the top tray of any paleontologist’s toolbox, because it can so easily expand the anatomical information available from a fossil without damaging it.”

Anchiornis huxleyi a small, paravian dinosaur
Coloredareas represent different fossil specimens and black areas are approximated reconstructions.  Illustration credit Wang XL, Pittman M et al. 2017

Anchiornis huxleyi was a small, paravian dinosaur with a triangular skull bearing several details in common with dromaeosaurids and troodontids. Anchiornis had very long legs, usually an indication that they were strong runners. However, the extensive leg feathers indicate that this may be a vestigial trait, as running animals tend to have reduced, not increased, hair or feathers on their legs.

The folds of skin in front of the elbow and behind the wrist

The folds of skin in front of the elbow and behind the wrist (called patagia) were covered in feathers.  Credit Wang XL, Pittman M et al. 2017

via sciencealert