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Pterodactyl fossil reconstitution

Researchers discover ancient creature to be able to fly right after birth

A recent breakthrough has found that pterodactyl which is an extinct flying reptile which is also known as pterosaurs has been found to have a remarkable ability that it can fly from birth. No other vertebrate living as of today or the ones who have lived in history has this kind of ability. There is no replicate for this creature till now and this revelation has had a profound impact on our understanding as to how pterodactyls have lived and in our understanding of the dinosaur world as a whole.

Pterodactyls were initially thought to able to take flight only when grown up to full size and assumptions were made based on fossilized embryos which were found in China. Dr David Unwin, a University of Leicester palaeobiologist and Dr Charles Deeming, a University of Lincoln zoologist who are specialized in study of pterodactyls and avian and reptilian reproduction were able to disprove this theory. There was a data comparison between the prenatal growth observed in birds and crocodiles in the early stage of development before hatching. Embryos found in China and Argentina had died just before they were hatched and provided the evidence that pterodactyls had the ability to fly from birth. The study has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B

The basic fundamental difference between the baby pterodactyls and baby birds and bats is that they are not given any parental care and had to look after themselves from birth and search for their feed. The ability to fly provided them with a life-saving mechanism with which they could protect themselves from the carnivores dinosaurs. This ability also proved to be one of their biggest killers, as the demanding and dangerous process of flight led to many of them dying at a very early age.

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The research provides answers to some key questions surrounding these animals. Flaplings (baby pterodactyls) were known to fly and grow from birth and provides a possible explanation as to why they were able to achieve enormous wingspans which were larger than any historic or known species of bird or bat. Their wing finger is also known as manus digit IV had an early elongation and development, making them flight capable quite early in postnatal development. 

Further study is required to understand as to how they are able to carry out this process and with more developments raises more questions that were not posed earlier due to our limited understanding of the species. Complete and comparative anatomy can reveal novel developmental modes in the species of pterosaurs and how they can strikingly differ from birds and bats.

 

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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