Azhdarchid Pterosaurs, the giant reptiles that flew in the skies nearly 65 million years ago, had necks longer than that of a giraffe (i.e. more than 6fts).
Now, researchers have reported a new finding about their long necks — that the thin neck vertebrae were supported by an intricate internal structure that is unlike anything seen before.
- Pterosaurs are reptiles that are close cousins of dinosaurs, the first animals after insects to evolve powered flight.
- Some pterosaurs were as large as an F-16 fighter jet, while others were as small as a paper aeroplane.
- Pterosaurs went extinct about 65-66 million years ago (end of the Cretaceous period) and while they did not leave any of their descendants behind.
- One reason for this is that few pterosaurs lived in places where fossils tend to form, because of which their bones are preserved poorly.
- They are one type of pterosaur and one of the distinguishing characteristics about them is how big they were, especially their long necks.
- Some of these pterosaurs were the largest animals to have flown in the sky, with wingspans greater than 30 feet.
- The name azhdarchid, as per a blog on Scientific American comes from Azhdarcho, a Central Asian form named by Russian ornithologist and palaeontologist in 1984.
What have the researchers found?
- Researchers involved in this study were curious about how the reptile’s long neck functioned and how it was able to support the pterosaur’s body, allowing them to capture and eat heavy prey animals.
- Essentially, they were looking for an explanation that could help them understand how the pterosaur’s long necks didn’t snap when they carried large prey from one place to another.
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