The fossils of the bird-like dinosaur Archaeopteryx have been a scientific mystery for about 150 years. Scientists have been trying to determine out whether or not this creature could fly.
It may sound like something easy to establish because the dinosaur did have wings. However, the issue is actually more complex because the fossils, mainly found in Germany, are difficult to decipher.
As the bones were preserved in limestone slabs, getting them out for analysis would significantly damage them. According to experts, the fossils of this dinosaur are among the most valuable ones in the entire world.
However, thanks to the advanced X-ray imaging techniques which the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France possesses, researchers obtained an opportunity to take a better look at them.
The study team revealed their findings in a study recently released in the journal Nature Communications. It has already been established that birds evolved from dinosaurs.
Somewhere along that path, there were also the Archaeopteryx, which precedes the oldest bird by 75 million years. It’s also important to note that simply because they have wings doesn’t mean that birds can fly. Just look at modern penguins and ostriches.
The Mysterious Archaeopteryx or the Feathered Dinosaur
Experts are sure of one thing: if this dinosaur could fly, it wasn’t anything alike the flight of modern birds. Its primitive bone structure wouldn’t have allowed it.
However, the X-ray analysis revealed some interesting clues about this dinosaur’s arm bones. According to lead study author, Dennis Voeten, the wing bone geometry looks almost identical to that of modern birds.
So, even if it couldn’t execute that flying stroke, this proves that the feathered dinosaur might have been able to fly. It’s the strongest evidence experts found in 150 years of continuous research.
Also, the bones were hollow, another essential clue that these dinosaurs might have been airborne in some way. Voeten also said that this creature’s structure can be compared to that of modern roadrunners or pheasants.
Image source: Wikimedia