Scientists have created the best ever outline of a dinosaur and it could shed light on how grounded animals first started to fly.
Researchers from the US and China used lasers to study traces of soft tissue once attached to the dinosaur’s fossilised bones.
They revealed the dino had “drumstick-shaped legs, a slender tail and an arm that looks just like a modern bird wing,” Michael Pittman, co-author of a study in Nature which documents the discovery, told AFP.
Despite its huge wings, it’s not still not clear if the Anchiornis could actually fly. But it does boast a key feature found in modern birds: a propatagium, the boneless, feathered, leading edge of the wing, which is crucial for flight.
The creatures are also believed to have lived at the same time that birds first appeared.
“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,” Dr Stephen Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh, who wasn’t involved in the research, told the BBC.
“This study uses high-powered lasers to generate the single best look at the wings and body outline of a dinosaur ever,” Brusatte added.