Pterosaurs were a type of flying reptiles which existed during the Dinosaur era. They are known to be the earliest vertebrates, with bats and birds appearing later.
Origins of Pterosaurs clarified
- Researchers have recently found that the reptile group of the Triassic Period called lagerpetids might have been the evolutionary precursor to pterosaurs.
- Some partial skeletons of lagerpetids are found in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and Madagascar.
- Lagerpetids, who first appeared around 237 million years ago, were small insect-eaters and could not fly.
- According to the study by researchers, the pterosaurs also might have started relatively small, eventually achieving a 35 feet wingspan.
- As per researchers, the oldest-known pterosaurs appeared around 220 million years ago. They were found to have anatomies completely developed for flight comprising of wings formed by a membrane extending from the ankles to an exceptionally elongated fourth finger.
- After studying already discovered and newly unearthed fossils using three-dimensional modeling and sophisticated scanning technology, the researchers pointed out at least 33 skeletal traits that suggest an evolutionary link between pterosaurs and lagerpetids.
- The identified traits included the braincase and teeth, the shape of the inner ear, similarities in leg, ankle, hand, and pelvic bones.
- Lagerpetids are close relatives of pterosaurs and are also closely related to dinosaurs.
- The oldest-known dinosaur dates to around 233 million years ago. Pterosaurs disappeared 66 million years ago in the asteroid collision when the dinosaurs were also doomed.
The origin of pterosaurs has been a mysterious issue of paleontology since the 18th century when the pterosaurs were discovered. This study may have clarified the origins of the species. This study was published in the journal Nature.