New research shows the flying way of life evolved among mammalian ancestors 100 million years earlier than the first modern mammal fliers (Credit: April I. Neander/U. Chicago)
The forerunners of mammals in the Jurassic Period evolved to glide and live in trees using long limbs, long hand and foot fingers, and wing-like membranes, two 160 million-year-old fossils discovered in China suggest.
The discovery indicates that the volant, or flying, way of life evolved among mammalian ancestors 100 million years earlier than the first modern mammal fliers.
Photograph of the fossil of gliding mammaliaform Maiopatagium furculiferum (type specimen from Beijing Museum of Natural History BMNH 2940). (Credit: Zhe-Xi Luo/U. Chicago)