By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | December 17, 2018 02:22pm ET
There's no doubt anymore: Pterosaurs — the flying reptiles that zipped through the skies during the dinosaur age — sported feathers, a finding that pushes the origin of these fluffy structures back 70 million years.
An analysis of two well-preserved pterosaur specimens found in China revealed that these beasts had four completely different feather types, researchers said in a study published online today (Dec. 17) in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolultion.
"The pterosaurs had four types of feather-like structures: simple filaments ('hairs'), bundles of filaments, filaments with a tuft halfway down and down feathers," study lead researcher Baoyu Jiang, a professor of paleontology in the School of Earth Sciences and Engineering at Nanjing University in China, told Live Science in an email. [Photos of Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs]