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Discovery shows that the extinct flying reptile had the amazing ability to fly from birth – ScienceDaily



A breakthrough discovery showed that pterodactyles, extinct flying reptiles, also known as pterosaurs, had remarkable ability – they could fly from birth. The significance of this discovery is underlined by the fact that no other vertebrate animals currently living or in the history of life, as we know it, have been able to repeat it. This discovery has a profound impact on our understanding of pterodactyl's way of life, which is crucial to understanding how the world of dinosaurs works as a whole.

Previously it was thought that pterodactyls are able to fly into the air only when they reach almost full size, like birds or bats. This assumption was based on petrified embryos of beings found in China that had poorly developed wings.

However, Dr. David Unwin, a paleobiologist at the University of Leicester, specializing in pterodactyl studies and Dr. Charles Deeming, a zoologist at the University of Lincoln, studying reproduction of birds and reptiles, was able to disprove this hypothesis. They compared these embryos with data on prenatal growth in birds and crocodiles, stating that they were still at an early stage of development and far from hatching. The discovery of more advanced embryos in China and Argentina, which died shortly before hatching, provided evidence that pterodactyls have the ability to fly from birth. Dr. David Unwin said: "Theoretically, what pterosaurs did, grow and fly is impossible, but they did not know it, so they did it anyway."

Another basic difference between pterodactyls for children, also known as chicks, and chicks or bats, is that they did not have parental care and had to feed and take care of themselves from birth. Their ability to fly gave them a life-saving survival mechanism that they used to avoid carnivorous dinosaurs. This skill also proved to be one of their greatest killers, because the demanding and dangerous flight process led to the death of many of them at a very young age.

Research has also undermined the current view that pterodactyls behaved similarly to birds and bats and provided possible answers to some of the key questions regarding these animals. Because the flaps could both fly and grow from birth, it gives a possible explanation of why they managed to reach huge wingspans, much larger than any historical or present species of birds or bats. The way they were able to carry out this process will require further research, but this is a question that would not be posed without these recent changes in our understanding.

Dr Deeming added: "Our technique shows that pterosaurs differed from birds and bats, so comparative anatomy could reveal new developmental modes in extinct species."

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Materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: The content can be edited for style and length.


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