Study: Ancient birds used 4 wings in flight

03/14/2013 | New York Times (tiered subscription model), The

Scientists in China have detailed the fossil specimens of 11 types of four-winged birds, according to a report in the journal Science. The "basal birds" show evidence of eventually losing the hind-limb wings in favor of the two forelimb wings and birdlike feet, a crucial transition that "may have played an important role in the evolution of flight," researchers said. While the existence of four-winged birds has been confirmed, the two-dimensional nature of the fossils make it difficult for scientists to explain the aerodynamic function, if any, of having four wings.

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