Pterosaur : New Species
Palaeontologists from China and Brazil recently identified a new species of chaoyangopterid pterosaur
- A pterosaur is any of the flying reptiles that flourished during all periods (Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous) of the Mesozoic Era (252.2 million to 66 million years ago).
- Although pterosaurs are not dinosaurs, both are archosaurs, or “ruling reptiles,” a group to which birds and crocodiles also belong.
- They were also the first animals after insects to evolve powered flight—not just leaping or gliding, but flapping their wings to generate lift and travel through the air.
- Pterosaurs were not only the first reptiles capable of flight. They were also the first vertebrates to fly.
- It included the largest vertebrate ever known to fly: the late Cretaceous Quetzalcoatlus.
- The appearance of flight in pterosaurs was separate from the evolution of flight in birds and bats; pterosaurs are not closely related to either birds or bats and thus provide a classic example of convergent evolution.
- Their wings were formed by a sophisticated membrane of skin stretching from the thorax to a dramatically lengthened fourth finger.
- The pterosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, around 65.5 million years ago, during the mass extinction known as the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event (K-T extinction event).