London, Apr 5 (ANI): Dinosaurs may have evolved wings as a way of attracting the opposite sex, say biologists.According to research from University of Manchester, the ability to fly was part of a evolutionary force, known as sexual selection, where traits deemed as attractive by the opposite sex become more common and more pronounced through generations because they are favoured by mating animals.
Dr Robert Nudds, a biologist at the University of Manchester who carried out the research, said his work had raised the prospect that sexual selection played a bigger role in the evolution of flight than had been previously believed.
"The problem we see is why an animal would start holding its forelimbs out to the side in a symmetrical manner in the first place," The Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
"Two legged animals use their forelimbs in asymmetrical movements to help counteract the force fro the legs and to stop their body from rotating as they run.
"If an animal started running with its limbs held out to the side, then there would be cost that would have left them competitively at a disadvantage. There must have been another factor involved to allow this trait to continue through the generations.
"One theory is that these feathered dinosaurs used their forelimbs in some sort of sexual display, so maybe they ran around with their arms outstretched to show off how pretty their feathers were," he added.
To reach the conclusion, Nudds, who worked with palaeontologist Dr Gareth Dyke at University College Dublin, used biomechanical models to simulate how Archaeopteryx and two other feathered dinosaurs, Caudipteryx and Protarchaeopteryx, would have moved.
They found that the early wings of these animals would have provided little thrust to assist when running uphill and would have also increased drag.
Dr Nudds added: "To me, it makes more sense that dinosaurs began to hold their forelimbs out when jumping out of trees and eventually started gliding to the ground, but the problem is the evidence in the fossil record doesn't support this.
"There may of course be gaps in the fossil record and with the ground dwelling species we have discovered so far, it seems that something other than simple natural selection drove the evolution of symmetrical forelimb posture." (ANI)