WHO IS LONGISQUAMA?
 
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by Vladimir ALIFANOV, Cand. Sc. (Biol.), Yevgeny KUROCHKIN, Dr. Sc. (Biol.), RAS Institute of Paleontology Paleoentomologist A. Sharov discovered on the territory of Fergana Valley (Kyrgyzstan) in the early 1970s, in the late Triassic deposits of Madygen encampment, a front part of the skeleton with the skull of a miniature reptile. On the surface of the slab of solid clay, containing the remains, there are still visible imprints of the outer skin: in the neck area and along the back edge of the shoulder and antebrachium the prolate and overlapping scales were clearly noticeable. The most interesting were back scales of the reptile - feather-like formations, long (up to 10-12 cm) and wide at the end. Sharov named this fossil Longisquama insignis. In his opinion, Longisquama lived on trees and could "fly", using dorsal appendages, located supposedly in a row, as a kind of parachutes. He believed that this Triassic reptile belongs to a variety ofarchosaurs (a subclass of reptiles, including tecodonts, dinosaurs, crocodiles and flying lizards), related to birds. Lately Longisquama was mentioned very seldom. In this sense only one article published in 1987 by West European paleontologists has been of interest. It deals with an aerodynamic form of dorsal appendages and their two-row location. On this basis it was assumed that Longisquama propelled itself from tree to tree, as is usually done, for example, by a squirrel-flier or lizard- small dragon today. Nowadays Longisquama is again much talked about in view of activization of discussions on the problem of origin of birds. In the course of these discussions the number of champions of the hypothesis on the origin of birds from dinosaurs has considerably increased, which was especially influenced by a series of discoveries in China of Early Cretaceous predatory dinosaurs with remnants of natural feathers or imprints of skin formations, very like a feather cover. And it is here that the problem of Longisquama has spru ... Читать далее
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