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Laser technique sheds light on pivotal feathered dinosaur fossils

1 March 2017

A technique using high-powered lasers to reveal hidden soft tissue alongside bones in fossils is giving scientists insight into one of the major evolutions in the history of life.    UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG PALEONTOLOGIST, MICHAEL PITTMAN    "What it is, is it has skin in front of its elbow called the propatagium. This feature is crucial in modern birds that fly because without it they couldn't. So we have this kind of shallow morphology, this shallow shape, which is reminiscent of modern gliding and soaring birds."    "At the moment we think that flights evolve just once and we have other animals, at least one that was capable of gliding that was bird-like, not a bird. But the experimentation that happened in the late Jurassic leading up to the origin of birds, well that's still a hot topic. So research like this is going to help push us along in deepening our understanding of how this happened."         Scientists are now elaborating how the small feathered dinosaurs taking flight as birds.