Jun 13, 2019, 8:45pm
New analysis of recent fossil finds suggest that pterosaurs could fly very soon after they hatched, unlike today’s birds or bats.
The pterosaurs were a group of flying reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs and included the famous pterodactyls. Humans have been aware of these creatures through fossils for at least three centuries, but researchers have only in the past 15 years started uncovering evidence of their development from eggs into adults.
These finds led to a debate over whether pterosaur wings and bones developed under the care of parents before flight, like today’s flying animals, or whether pterosaurs could fly right after hatching. A new analysis provides evidence that the reptiles developed all of their flight abilities before hatching.
“One mistake we’ve made in the past is to try and interpret pterosaurs in the context of birds and bats,” David Unwin, the study’s first author and paleobiologist at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom told Gizmodo. “We’ve learned the hard way that doesn’t always work.”