Chinese Flying Dragon

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on March 22nd, 2007

The London Telegraph reports on an amazing fossil find out of China.

Gliding lizard fossil Xianglong zhaoi

Gliding lizard fossil (Xianglong zhaoi ). The skeleton was found in northeastern China, with its most striking feature the elongated ribs that helped to spread a wing-like membrane for gliding

Ancient lizard used ribs to fly

Most animals with the ability to glide, such as “flying” frogs and squirrels, remain airborne with the help of a membrane spread between their toes, or between body and legs.

Not so in the case of this “flying dragon”, however, which lived more than 130 million years ago, around the time of the dinosaurs.

A Chinese team reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that this creature had a wing-like membrane spread between eight elongated ribs to the left and right of the lizard’s body, an unusual arrangement only seen today in the dragon lizards of southeast Asia.

The fossil specimen described by Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeonanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, and colleagues shows the complete skeleton, including the splayed ribs, and imprints from the skin of a lizard that lived in the Early Cretaceous period.

The six inch long skeleton of the insect eater was found in the Liaoning Province of northeastern China, and the species of lizard was named Xianglong zhaoi, after the Chinese for flying dragon and Zhao Dayu, one of the founders of the Liaoning Palaeontological Museum.

The team suggests that the rib-supported gliding membranes of the various lizard species arose by convergent evolution, the process by which different species come up with the same solution to the same problem, in this case how to glide. Roger Highfield
Science Editor

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

5 Responses to “Chinese Flying Dragon”

  1. Bpl responds:

    Looks like a fake. Where are the segments in the toes where the different bones connected? It’s hard to tell from this picture and I could well be wrong, but I’m calling this one busted!

  2. 12inchPianist responds:

    I can believe that the lizard once existed. I’ve seen fossil evidence of reptiles and dinosaurs that could glide. Or even take up rudimentary flight.

    But this case does appear to be less-than-honest. It almost looks painted on and then, to appear more authentic, broken. The hoaxer may believe that the whole cloth would look too perfect, and so ripped it up and sewed it back together.

    I would like to see a bigger picture. Is that a possibility?

  3. mystery_man responds:

    I am always excited to see any kind of new fossil discovery. Interesting indeed!

  4. sschaper responds:

    As they noted, the same or similar lizard still lives in SE Asia. This is news?

  5. Jer7 responds:

    I wonder how big is the fossil.. I’d like to know…

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