Scientists Discover Second Bat-like Dinosaur in China

The fossil is part of a family of dinosaurs previously unknown to paleontologists.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Back in 2015, paleontologist Xing Xu discovered a bat-like furry dinosaur. It was unlike any dinosaur ever found featuring a coating of fuzz and wings like those of bats, and it was named Yi qi.


A second dinosaur of its type

Now, a second dinosaur of this type has been discovered. Chinese Academy of Sciences paleontologist Min Wang and colleagues found another bat-like dinosaur related to Yi qi that they called Ambopteryx.

"The wings of birds and their closest theropod relatives share a uniform fundamental architecture, with pinnate flight feathers as the key component. Here we report a new scansoriopterygid theropod, Yi qigen. et sp. nov., based on a new specimen from the Middle–Upper Jurassic period Tiaojishan Formation of Hebei Province, China," reads the study.

Ambopteryx takes the shape of a delicately preserved skeleton with a bit of fossilized fuzz. The fossil includes gut contents found inside the body cavity.


All in all, it looks similar to Yi qi as both are relatives within a family of dinosaurs called scansoriopterygids, a group of dinosaurs previously unknown to paleontologists. However, Ambopteryx differs somewhat from Yi qi.

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It has a longer forelimb than hindlimb. It also features a fused vertebrae at the end of the tail.

The experts are not sure what the dinosaurs were doing with their wings as they were unlikely to be able to fly with them. Instead, they presume they used them for gliding.

In order to get more details on how they used their wings, it would be important for the researchers to study the dinosaur's brains. However, like most fossils, the brains have been flattened beyond recognition.

Still, the Ambopteryx skeleton is reported to be the best fossil of its family yet found. And it has more than just wings. Inside its body cavity were gizzard stones and fragments of bones suggesting the bird-dinosaur was likely omnivorous.

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