When people discuss the origins of flight, they tend to concentrate on birds, on which man based the early studies that finally led to the first flying aeroplanes.
But it has been concluded by the scientific world that these feathered creatures, today represented by 9 900 living species, in turn evolved from small, specialised coelurosaurian theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period (from about 196-to-45 million years ago). Among the features linking theropod dinosaurs to birds are the three-toed foot, a furcula (wishbone), air-filled bones, brooding of the eggs, and (in some cases) feathers.
And Professional Aviation Services have organised an exclusive display at the Africa Aerospace & Defence 2012 air show (September 19-23) to show this connection.
Part of this shows a clutch of fossilised dinosaur eggs laid by the herbivore dinosaur, Massospondylus carinatus, in the early Jurassic period, and found near the Golden Gate National Park in the North Eastern Free State. Two of these had been carefully opened by experts in Canada to show the fossilised skeletal remains of the dinosaur young.
To further emphasise the connection between dinosaurs and birds, Professional is also displaying an imprint of a small dinosaur clearly showing that it was feathered – presented to the University of the Witwatersrand by the Peoples Republic of China.
The MD of Professional Aviation, Bob Garbett, has borrowed the exhibits from the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontlogical Research at Wits University – and, due to their priceless nature, the eggs will be displayed in a bullet-proof alarmed glass case under 24-hour guard.
After the display they will be exhibited as part of the Wits 90 Treasures Exhibition at Wits University.
This article appeared previously in the FTW.