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Dinosaurs: Their wings helped catch insects

Dinosaurs: Their wings helped catch insects

Fossils found from the Jurassic period show that it was a group of flightless dinosaurs – the tyrannosaurids Benaraptoran -It had typical wings on its front legs and tail. However, these wings were too small to fly. The question of what dinosaurs did to it has not yet been fully answered.

An American paleontologist presented a preliminary theory Harold Ostrom About 50 years ago: Small, land-dwelling dinosaurs could use their short wings to kill their prey – insects. Now a research team from Seoul State University has taken this approach and added another aspect to it: the feathers may also have served to frighten insects, luring them out of hiding in meadows and shrubs and then catching them.

Interaction between feathers and insects

The research team describes the “fast follow-up” hypothesis in StadyWhich has now been published in the specialized magazine “Scientific Report”. Using field studies, the team drew parallels with the hunting behavior of extant insectivorous birds. Some species, e.g mocking-birdIt has striking patterns on its tail feathers and its wings are strikingly distinctive. By opening or flapping their wings, insects are frightened away and thus become easier prey for birds.

Christoph Hendricks. Used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The hypothesis was tested using a robot and grasshoppers

But it's not just feathers that play a role: according to the research team, quite simply, it's also due to insects. Their flight reflex is stronger if wings and feathers with patterns and colors are involved in the movement. To test this hypothesis, a robot was built: “Robopteryx”. He was an example of this Caudipteryx. This type of dinosaur existed about 124 million years ago – a bipedal predator about the size of a modern peacock.

The robot replica is equipped with feathers in the places where its chalk model used to be. Then came the locusts' turn. When the robot moved the artificial wings, 97% of the grasshoppers jumped and flew away in several trials. When the robot moved without springs, more than half of the grasshoppers remained still.

The researchers concluded that these results support the “rapid follow-up” hypothesis. This could provide another avenue to investigate why dinosaurs evolved wings and feathered tails.

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