pterosaur

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pterosaur

(tĕr`əsôr') [Gr., = winged lizard], extinct flying reptile (commonly called pterodactyl [Gr., = wing finger]) of the order Pterosauria, common in the late Triassic and Cretaceous periods, from approximately 228 to 65 million years ago. At least 60 genera of pterosaurs have been found, sizes ranging from that of a sparrow to that of the huge Quetzalcoatlus, the largest fossils of which have a wingspread of more than 40 ft (12 m), and fossilized tracks suggest that some pterosaurs may have had 60 ft (18 m) wingspans. The earlier species (e.g., Rhamporhynchus) had fully toothed jaws and long tails, but in the later forms (e.g., Pteronodon) the tail was a stump, teeth were lacking, and the jaws were modified into a beak. The skulls of different species differ markedly, presumably as a result of adaptation to capturing different kinds of prey.

The flying apparatus of pterosaurs comprised a membranous wing stretched between the fourth finger of the hand and the side of the body. The fifth finger was degenerate, and the first three were free of the wing. The "pteroid" bone, unique to the pterosaur group, attached to the wrist and pointed toward the shoulder, also helped support the wing, and the wings were strengthened by numerous connective tissue fibers. There is no fossil evidence of feathers. Most researchers now believe that pterosaurs were adapted for active flight, not just gliding as was earlier believed. Their bones are large but hollow, and they possessed a keeled breastbone for the attachment of flying muscles. Debate continues regarding how pterosaurs moved when on the ground and how maneuverable they were in the air. Pterosaurs, unlike the flying dinosaur ArchaeopteryxArchaeopteryx
[Gr.,=primitive wing], a 150 million-year-old fossil animal first discovered in 1860 in the late Jurassic limestone of Solnhofen, Bavaria, and described the following year.
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, were not ancestral to the birds but represented a wholly separate line of development. Like dinosaursdinosaur
[Gr., = terrible lizard], extinct land reptile of the Mesozoic era. The dinosaurs, which were egg-laying animals, ranged in length from 2 1-2 ft (91 cm) to about 127 ft (39 m).
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, pterosaurs were affected by the mass extinctionmass extinction,
the extinction of a large percentage of the earth's species, opening ecological niches for other species to fill. There have been at least ten such events.
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 at the end of the Cretaceous periodCretaceous period
, third and last period of the Mesozoic era of geologic time (see Geologic Timescale, table), lasting from approximately 144 to 65 million years ago. The Cretaceous was marked, in both North America and Europe, by extensive submergences of the continents.
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References in periodicals archive ?
To be able to grow so large and still be able to fly, pterosaurs evolved incredibly lightweight skeletons, with the bones reduced to thin-walled, hollow tubes like the frame a carbon-fiber racing bike," Dr.
Researchers have proposed that "the only way pterosaurs could survive was by evolving completely crazy massive sizes," Martin-Silverstone says.
Previous studies suggest that the Late Cretaceous skies were only occupied by much larger pterosaur species and birds, but this new finding, which is reported in the Royal Society journal Open Science, provides crucial information about the diversity and success of Late Cretaceous pterosaurs.
Pterosaurs were Earth's first flying vertebrates, with birds and bats making their appearances later.
as well as life-size models, videos, and interactive exhibits that immerse visitors in the mechanics of pterosaur flight, including a motion sensor-based interactive that allows an individual to use his or her body to "pilot" two species of pterosaurs through virtual prehistoric landscapes.
Based on the discoveries, we know that this Pterosaur lived together with other Pterosaurs and laid its eggs in the bank of the ancient lake, similar (behaviour) to that of some modern birds such as flamingos," explained Xiaolin Wang, a vertebrate paleontologist from Chinese Academy of Sciences.
These fossils will shed new light on the reproduction, development, and behavior of pterosaurs, according to Wang.
TEHRAN (FNA)- A team of researchers discovered the first three-dimensionally preserved pterosaur eggs in China.
As the pterosaurs evolved, their wings changed from being narrow, which are more useful for marine environments, to being more broad near the origin of the pterodactyloids - helpful in navigating land environments.
Pterosaurs from the Cretaceous of England were first described by British naturalists Richard Owen and Harry Seeley in the 19th century, when little was known about the diversity of the group, resulting in the description of dozens of species, all based on very fragmentary remains, represented mostly by the tips of the snouts of these animals.
He said it was previously thought that pterosaurs lived at the end of the Cretaceous period, some 72 to 86 million years ago.