The latest installment of the Chinese saga. If there’s a perfect picture of evolution in the works it must be the ancient Yixian deposits.  Every possible (no matter how outlandish) stage in dinosaur flight development can be documented. And much more is still to come.

Foreground: A nesting Caudipteryx being harassed by several Jixiangornis (newly discovered long tailed birds)
while a Sinosauropteryx tries to get to the eggs.

Middle ground: A flamboyant, multicoloured Jeholornis gets a mild warning from a lazy, nesting Psittacosaurus. Jeholornis is notable for having a long bony tail while the wing digits -even if two of them are clawed- are showing signs of fusion.

Far background: a flock of Microraptor gui in four-winged flight motion.
I studied the possibilities of how this animal could (or if) have really flown and opted for the ‘biplane’ theory instead of full flapping flight using both forelimbs and backlimbs. The leg flight feathers were spread but held at a different plane from the battering arm wings.
Probably not a sophisticated flyer, it must have had clumsy flight capabilities but would have been a spectacular sight nevertheless.  I don't think Microraptor was necessarily  an ancestor of any known birds... it was just yet another dead end: One of many evolutionary trials on how to fly. An evolutionary triumph that didn't last until our days, but a triumph nevertheless.

Click on image to see more detail! (There are 3 areas within this picture.) rev4jeholornis.jpg rev4caud.jpg rev4yanor.jpg


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