[N] 2006 Volaticotherium antiquus a Mesozoic gliding mammal from northeastern China
Mang J, Hu Y, Wang Y, Wang X, Li C. (2006) A Mesozoic gliding mammal from northeastern China. Nature 444:889-893.
Report of a new Mesozoic mammal Volaticotherium antiquus from Daohugou,Ningcheng County, InnerMongolia, China. Volaticotherium antiquus represents a previously unknown group characterized by a highly specialized insectivorous dentition and a sizable patagium (flying membrane) for gliding flight. The patagium is covered with dense hair and supported by an elongated tail and limbs; the latter also bear many features adapted for arboreal life. This discovery extends the earliest record of gliding flight for mammals to at least 70 million years earlier in geological history, and demonstrates that early mammals were diverse in their locomotor strategies and lifestyles; they had experimented with an aerial habit at about the same time as, if not earlier than, when birds endeavoured to exploit the sky.
The holotype consist out of a squashed skeleton preserved in the part and counterpart of a split slab that also contains numerous carapace valves of small conchostracans Some parts of the counterpart are missing. The specimen is housed in the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China (IVPP V14739)
Etymology. Volaticus (Latin): winged, flying; theri (Greek): beast; antiquus (Latin): ancient.