quinta-feira, 26 de abril de 2018

150M year-old dinosaur could probably fly, new research suggests

The question as to whether the Jurassic-era Archaeopteryx was able to fly has long baffled paleontologists. Now, new research may have unveiled the answer.

It has been established as scientific fact that birds evolved from a group of dinosaurs known as maniraptoran theropods, a group that included Velociraptors and other small carnivorous dinosaurs. Now, new research suggests that the 150-million-year old Archaeopteryx, a link between dinosaurs and modern-day birds was able to fly, but drastically different than any cardinal or blue jay you've ever seen.

New research, published Tuesday in scientific journal Nature Communications, highlights new findings that the dinosaur likely flew in rapid, short bursts over small distances, unlike modern-day birds.

A questão de saber se o Archaeopteryx da era Jurássica foi capaz de voar há muito tempo desconcerta os paleontólogos. Agora, uma nova pesquisa pode ter revelado a resposta.

Estabeleceu-se como fato científico que as aves evoluíram de um grupo de dinossauros conhecidos como terópodes maniraptorianos, um grupo que incluía Velociraptors e outros pequenos dinossauros carnívoros. Agora, uma nova pesquisa sugere que o Archaeopteryx de 150 milhões de anos, um elo entre dinossauros e pássaros modernos, era capaz de voar, mas drasticamente diferente do que qualquer cardeal ou jay azul que você já viu.

 Nova pesquisa, publicada na terça-feira na revista científica Nature Communications, destaca novas descobertas de que o dinossauro provavelmente voou em rajadas rápidas e curtas por pequenas distâncias, ao contrário das aves modernas.

"Our analyses reveal that the architecture of Archaeopteryx’s wing bones consistently exhibits a combination of cross-sectional geometric properties uniquely shared with volant birds, particularly those occasionally [utilizing] short-distance flapping," the study's abstract reads. "We therefore interpret that Archaeopteryx actively employed wing flapping to take to the air through a more anterodorsally posteroventrally oriented flight stroke than used by modern birds."

"Nossas análises revelam que a arquitetura dos ossos das asas do Archaeopteryx exibe consistentemente uma combinação de propriedades geométricas transversais exclusivamente compartilhadas com aves volantes, particularmente aquelas ocasionalmente [utilizando] batidas de curta distância", diz o resumo do estudo. "Nós, portanto, interpretamos que o Archaeopteryx empregou ativamente o agitar das asas para levar para o ar através de uma trajetória de vôo mais orientada para o plano póstero-ventral do que o usado pelas aves modernas."


The study's authors also concluded that "avian powered flight must have originated before the latest Jurassic."

“We immediately noticed that the bone walls of Archaeopteryx were much thinner than those of earthbound dinosaurs but looked a lot like conventional bird bones,” said lead author Dennis Voeten in a statement. “Data analysis furthermore demonstrated that the bones of Archaeopteryx plot closest to those of birds like pheasants that occasionally use active flight to cross barriers or dodge predators, but not to those of gliding and soaring forms such as many birds of prey and some seabirds that are optimised for enduring flight.”

Dr. Emmanuel de Margerie, who also worked on the research, said the team "focused on the middle part of the arm bones because we knew those sections contain clear flight-related signals in birds."
The study, which was received in July 2017 and accepted on Jan. 31, 2018, was authored by Voeten, Jorge Cubo, Emmanuel de Margerie, Martin Röper, Vincent Beyrand, Stanislav Bureš, Paul Tafforeau and Sophie Sanchez.

The researchers used a non-invasive technique called phase-contrast synchroron microtomography to examine the fossilized bones and get a better idea of what the Archaeopteryx could do in the air.

Os autores do estudo também concluíram que "o voo com motor deve ter se originado antes do último jurássico".

"Nós imediatamente notamos que as paredes ósseas do Archaeopteryx eram muito mais finas do que as dos dinossauros terrestres, mas se pareciam muito com os ossos das aves convencionais", disse o principal autor do estudo, Dennis Voeten, em um comunicado. A análise dos dados demonstrou ainda que os ossos do Archaeopteryx são mais próximos dos de aves como faisões que ocasionalmente usam o vôo ativo para cruzar barreiras ou desviar de predadores, mas não para planar e planar como muitas aves de rapina e algumas aves marinhas otimizado para um voo duradouro. ”

 O Dr. Emmanuel de Margerie, que também trabalhou na pesquisa, disse que a equipe "concentrou-se na parte central dos ossos do braço porque sabíamos que essas seções contêm sinais claros relacionados a vôo em pássaros".

O estudo, que foi recebido em julho de 2017 e aceito em 31 de janeiro de 2018, é de autoria de Voeten, Jorge Cubo, Emmanuel de Margerie, Martin Röper, Vincent Beyrand, Stanislav Bureš, Paul Tafforeau e Sophie Sanchez.

Os pesquisadores usaram uma técnica não-invasiva chamada microtomografia de contraste de fase para examinar os ossos fossilizados e ter uma idéia melhor do que o Archaeopteryx poderia fazer no ar.


Twelve fossils of Archaeopteryx have been found, the first discovered in the late 19th century by famed German palaeontologist Hermann von Meyer. The most recent was discovered by an amateur collector in 2010, announced in February 2014 and described scientifically this year.

Archaeopteryx possessed feathers, like a modern-day bird. However, it also possessed a "long, stiff, frond-feathered tail" and teeth, along with bones in its hands, shoulders and pelvis that were not fused.
Other dinosaurs also took to flight, such as the Pteranodon and Pterodactyls, but the Archaeopteryx is a link between dinosaurs and birds, effectively an intermediary, giving its flight patterns added importance.
Voeten notes that because of Archaeopteryx's differences from modern-day birds, more analysis is needed to figure out exactly how it used its wings.


"However, because Archaeopteryx lacked the pectoral adaptations to fly like modern birds, the way it achieved powered flight must also have been different," Voeten said. "We will need to return to the fossils to answer the question on exactly how this Bavarian icon of evolution used its wings."


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