One of the mysterious reptiles that belonged to the middle and late Triassic period that spanned from 247 to 201 million years ago (mya), the Longisquama is a genus that consisted of a single species called the Longisquama insignia. The reptile must have become extinct somewhere between Norian and Rhaetian ages. The term Longisquama is a combination of two Latin words: 'longus' and 'squama' which mean 'long' and 'scales', respectively. When it was discovered, it was named the Longisquama insignis due to a string of tall feathers on its back. Fossil remains were found from the Madygen formation in Kyrgyzstan and are kept in the Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.
The reptile is known for the elongated skin protuberance on its back. A fossil has been preserved that had dorsal feather-like appendages from the back of an incomplete skeleton. The reptile had a row of seven appendages spreading like a fan-like pattern. These appendages were neither scales nor feathers, and were quite strong, unlike avian feathers. Also, they were quite long and narrow and resembled tiny hockey sticks. The average body length of the reptile is said to have been around 6 in (15 cm).
A few researchers such as Buffetaut and Haubold suggested that long structures were modified scales attached in pairs, akin to a paired gliding membrane. A reconstruction of the Longisquama with plumes was published that looked similar to gliding lizards such as the Kuehneosaurus and the Draco. However, the reconstruction is now thought to be false. A set of scientists believe that the origin of birds is somehow linked to 'long scales' of these reptiles but a consensus was reached that birds evolved from Theropod dinosaurs.
Let's read more fun facts about the Longisquama, and if you find this article interesting, don't forget to check out exciting facts about different extinct dinosaurs such as the Tylosaurus and the Pleurosaurus.
No, the Longisquama was not a dinosaur but was an extinct reptile of the middle and late Triassic period. The reptile was best known for its elongated dorsal skin protuberance on its back, which must have been used by the reptile to glide. A group of paleontologists came to believe that modern birds evolved from these reptiles, but the notion was later rejected.
The pronunciation of the dinosaur's name seems to be a bit difficult, but we are here to make it a little easier for kids. We are going to tell you a simple trick that can be applied to the pronunciation of all names, be it dinosaurs, animals, places, and many other things. You just have to break the whole term into several syllables like 'lon-ge-skwa-mah' to make it less complicated. The term Longisquama is a combination of two Latin words: 'longus', and 'squama' which mean 'long' and 'scales', respectively.
The Longisquama insignis belonged to the class of Reptilia, the clade of Neodiapsida, and the Longisquama genus. Some even suggest that the reptile belonged to the Pseudosuchian clade.
The Longisquama insignis lived during the middle or late Triassic period that spanned from 247 to 201 million years ago (mya). During this period, the reptile inhabited several countries of central Asia. They are regarded as unique reptiles of the Triassic period.
The reptile must have become extinct somewhere between the Norian and Rhaetian ages. There is great uncertainty in regard to extinction, but the dinosaur must have become extinct due to a rapid decrease in the temperature. In general, primitive dinosaurs disappeared due to several reasons such as climate change, drought, volcanic eruption, and competition.
The first Longisquama fossil was found in the Madygen formation in Kyrgyzstan and is kept in the Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. These so-called birds must have lived in several central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
These animals must have lived in deserts, plains, and forests. Arid habitats must have helped in providing a large number of insects for these animals to feed on.
Very little is known about the social behavior of these animals, but like modern-day reptiles, these reptiles must have been solitary and preferred not to live in groups. They most likely formed pairs during the breeding season.
The exact life span of the animal is not known as of now. The animal must have lived a shorter life as it would have been a snack to other big-sized mammals and dinosaurs of the Triassic period.
The animal reproduced like other members of the Neodiapsida clade. Like modern-day reptiles and birds, these reptiles reproduced by laying eggs. They also performed several courtship displays to attract potential partners and males must have fought over females. Males used their feather-like elongated skin protuberance to attract female reptiles.
Like modern reptiles, the adult Longisquama would have not cared for its young ones. Young ones must have been left alone after birth. Many modern-day reptiles are known for protecting their eggs from hungry predators.
The body appeared to be quite small. Feather-like appendages were quite strong, unlike avian feathers. The small size of the creature must have helped in jumping branch to branch of high trees. Features such as wing-like structures could have helped the creature to fly or glide.
No research or analysis has been performed to find the exact number of bones, but several remains were found. An incomplete skeleton was discovered that consisted of a row of feather-like dorsal appendages. A few specimens had only a single appendage, while others possessed two long curved feather-like appendages. These feather-like appendages were neither scales nor feathers, but were quite long and narrow and resembled tiny hockey sticks.
The Longisquama insignis must have used similar methods as modern-day reptiles to communicate with each other. Modern birds and reptiles are known for using the tactile or touch cue as a form of communication. Reptiles generally get involved in nudging, licking, and biting. Researchers suggest that feather-like appendages were used to ward off predators or during courtship displays.
While talking about the Longisquama size, fossil remains suggest that the average body length was around 6 in (15 cm). The bird-like creature would have been twice the size of birds like hummingbirds and ruby-crowned kinglets. A few researchers also suggested that modern birds have evolved from these creatures, but the notion was rejected as birds generally evolved from some form of feathered Theropod dinosaurs.
No evidence regarding the speed of the bird-like creature has appeared to date. Non-avian appendages helped in gliding.
The weight of the creature is not known as of now, but specimens of these creatures weighed a few ounces.
No particular names are used to refer to males and females of these extinct reptiles and people generally call them Longisquamas.
Like dinosaurs, babies of these creatures are known as hatchlings.
They were insectivores and probably preyed only on insects. These tiny reptiles would have been a perfect snack for dinosaurs of that period.
No analysis has been performed to study their social behavior, but like other reptiles, they were solitary, too, but may have attacked intruders while avoiding predation.
The skeleton of the Longisquama was discovered by A. Sharov, a Russian paleontologist.
The term Longisquama is a combination of two Latin words: 'longus', and 'squama' which mean 'long' and 'scales', respectively.
The presence of feather-like appendages is the most striking feature of the extinct reptile. The reptile probably used these appendages during gliding.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Protosuchus interesting facts, or Cymbospondylus facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Longisquama coloring pages.
We've been unable to source an image of a Longisquama and have used an image of a Velociraptor instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of a Longisquama, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected].