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Pterosaurs capable of flight shortly after hatching?

Pterosaurs were a group of flying reptiles that lived during the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods (between 228 million and 66 million years ago). Due to the rare occurrence of fossilized pterosaur eggs and embryos, and the difficulties in distinguishing between hatchlings and adults with small body sizes, it was not clear whether newborn pterosaurs were capable of flight or, like the vast majority of the birds and bats had to grow a bit before they could take flight.

In new research, Mark Witton, Liz Martin-Silverstone and Darren Naish, respectively from the Universities of Portsmouth, Bristol and Southampton, all three in the UK, modeled the flight capabilities of the hatchlings using previously obtained wing measurements. of four identified hatchlings and embryo fossils of two pterosaur species, Pterodaustro guinazui and Sinopterus dongi.

They also compared these wing measurements with those of adults of the same species and compared the strength of the humerus bone of three hatchlings with those of 22 adult pterosaurs. The humerus is part of the wing.

The researchers found that the humerus bones of the hatchlings were stronger than those of many adult pterosaurs, indicating that they would have been strong enough to fly.

Witton and his colleagues found that these tiny newborn animals (with 25-centimeter wingspan) had bones strong enough to maintain flap and take off, and their wings were shaped ideally for powered flight (rather than for flight). just the planned flight).

The illustration shows a flock of pterosaurs of the species Pterodaustro guinazui. (Image: Mark Witton)

However, they did not fly exactly the same as their parents simply because they were much smaller: flight capabilities are strongly influenced by size and mass, which is why pterosaur hatchlings, being hundreds of times smaller than their parents, They probably flew slower but were more agile than adults, powerful and faster but less maneuverable.

The study is titled “Powered flight in hatchling pterosaurs: evidence from wing form and bone strength”. And it has been published in the academic journal Scientific Reports. (Source: NCYT from Amazings)

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