A new study of one of the earliest flying reptiles – Microraptor gui – shows that it had upper and lower sets of wings, just like the first biplanes of aviation. Microraptor guis were flying around the skies about 125 million years ago.
Fossil remains of the species have been found in China. The study has found that microraptor gui had aerodynamic feathers on both its wings and legs. Like biplanes, that arrangement of feathers could give the flying reptile a better ability to glide. Extending its legs while in flight, the microraptor gui would have two sets of wings that were offset and staggered from each other, just like a biplane.
Researchers have also commented that such an odd arrangement of feathers would have been very inefficient for flight, but could have been the first stages of the evolutionary process of developing flying reptiles in the dinosaur age.
The next step in the research process will be to do wind tunnel testing on models of Microraptor gui to see how its aerodynamics check out.