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Pterosaur infants

The smell of pterodaustro guinazui is depicted. (Credit: Dr. Mark Wheaton)

Scientists studying the remains of prehistoric flying reptiles believe that even their children were able to fly.

Researchers at the University of Bristol in Portsmouth believe that these tiny, nimble cubs were flexible leaflets that could quickly escape predators, jump through dense vegetation, and catch small, agile prey.

Pterosaurs are a group of extinct flying reptiles that lived in the Triassic, Cretaceous, dating to 228-66 million years ago.

Although scientists have been studying ancient creatures for more than 200 years, they have only had access to embryonic oss since 2004, says Mark Witton, a physician at the University of Portsmouth.

As a result, scientists have little knowledge about juvenile pterosaurs.

Dr. Whiton said: “We are still trying to understand the early stages of these animals.

“One discussion has focused on whether pterosaurs can fly prey or, like the vast majority of birds and bats, they have to grow a little before they can fly.”

The team used existing measurements of the remains of four hatchery պտ embryonic pterosaurs to model their flying abilities.

The researchers also compared the measurements of juvenile pterosaurs’s throat bones with those of adults to understand how reptiles’ flight changes as they mature.

Small enough to “fit neatly in your hand”

Dr. Whiton said: “We found out that these little animals, 25 cm tall, with bodies that could fit neatly in your hand, were very strong, capable flying devices.

“Their bones were strong enough to escape, and their wings were perfectly shaped for a nourishing (as opposed to a slippery) flight.

“But they would not fly the way their parents did just because they were much smaller.”

Although their wings were long and narrow, thus well adapted to long-distance flight, they were still shorter and wider than adult wings, with a larger surface area compared to their body size and mass.

Hundreds of times smaller than their parents, the spawners would be slower, faster flying devices.

Their parents would be better off on long-haul flights. But they would not be so clever.

This ability to change direction quickly probably helped small pterosaurs to escape predators, travel safely through dense vegetation, and even catch small, lush prey.

The study, says Dr. Witton, leaves scientists with many unanswered questions.

“How independent were the cubs from their parents?” Has the flight style influenced the choice of habitat? he said. ‘

There is still a lot to learn about the life stories of these animals, but we are confident that whatever they did as they grew up, they could fly from the moment they came out. ”

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