The Pterosaur Species:
Researchers have described a pterosaur species with opposable thumbs, which could likely be the earliest-known instance of the limb.
- The pterosaur species were reptiles, close cousins of dinosaurs and the first animals after insects to evolve powered flight. They evolved into various species; while some were as large as an F-16 fighter jet, others were as small as paper airplanes.
- The new pterosaur fossil was discovered in the Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning, China, and is thought to be 160 million years old. It has been named Kunpengopterus antipollicatus, also dubbed “Monkeydactyl”.
- “Antipollicatus” in ancient Greek means “opposite thumbs”, and it was attached to the name because the researchers’ findings could be the first discovery of a pterosaur with an opposed thumb.
- By studying its forelimb morphology and musculature, they suggest that K. antipollicatus could have used its hand for grasping, which is likely an adaptation for arboreal life.