Flying Dinosaurs in Action!

Needless to say, one can hardly think about flying dinosaurs without wondering what they looked like. Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds by John Pickrell includes several illustrations of flying dinosaurs based on scientific evidence. Here are few of examples from the book:

Flying Dinosaurs
Four-winged flier: Discovered in 2009, 161 million-year-old Anchiornis huxleyi pre-dated the “first bird” Archaeopteryx and helped solve the confusing “temporal paradox”. Until then, all known feathered dinosaurs were younger than Archaeopteryx, so couldn’t have been ancestral to it. Instead, experts now think Cretaceous forests were home to a mixture of feathery dinosaurs and early birds. (Source: Julius Csotonyi)

Flying Dinosaurs
Pitstop: Early birds were contemporaries of a diverse fauna of bird-like dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurs rex, during the Cretaceous period. (Source: Luis Rey)

Flying Dinosaurs
Handy pose: Track marks left by the Early Jurassic theropod Dilophosaurus suggest it adopted a similar resting pose to that of birds, with the palms of its “hands” facing upwards—another of many bird traits that evolved in their dinosaur ancestors (Source: Heather Kyoht Luterman/Andrew RC Milner et al. (2009))

Flying Dinosaurs
Costume change: Fossils of ostrich-mimic dinosaur Ornithomimus revealed in 2012 not only proved the species was feathered, but also suggested that juveniles sported different kinds of plumage from adults. The discovery, led by experts at the University of Calgary in Canada was the first evidence of feathered dinosaurs in North America and also the first clue that dinosaurs moulted and underwent plumage changes as birds do. (Source: Julius Csotonyi)

Flying Dinosaurs
Family trait: Tianyulong confuciusi was an ornithischian dinosaur not closely related to the carnivorous theropods, yet fossils of it described in 2009 revealed long integumentary structures likely to have been a form of feather. The discovery of this species suggested that the feathers were very widespread across the dinosaur family. Experts now believe that the flying pterosaurs —a sister group to dinosaurs—may have had fuzzy coverings of feathers too. (Source: Lida Xing)

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