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Ellen Paul

Early birds had four wings, not two, study reports

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Some primitive birds boasted four wings, before evolution led them to ditch their hind feathers in favor of webbed or scaly feet, scientists in China said on Thursday.

 

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Apparently, some early bird species had a rather unusual design - four wings. 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/science/early-bird-species-had-four-wings-scientists-find.html?hp&_r=0

 

Chinese scientists have made a detailed analysis of 11 four-winged fossil specimens that lived about 130 million years ago. They reported Thursday in the journal Science that the study provided the first “solid evidence” that some recently excavated primitive bird species had also adopted the four-wing body plan before they ditched the hind-limb feathers and continued alone with the presumably more efficient feathered forelimb wings.

 

The scientists suggested that these “basal bird” species appeared to be replacing their hind-limb feathers with scales and developing more birdlike feet and that the four-winged creatures were already getting ready to use their hind limbs for terrestrial locomotion. 

 

It isn't actually clear if these birds could fly.

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6.jpg

RedOrbit

Chinese Study Provides Evidence That Early Birds Had Four Wings Instead Of Two

RedOrbit

Ornithologist William Beebe in 1915 first suggested that early birds may have passed through a four-wing gliding stage on their way to evolving a true two-winged flying style. His early theory was quite fanciful, but didn't gain much credence from the ...

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