Scientists: the pterosaurs resembled fluffy dragons
And yet these animals had feathers.
Pterosaurs, which appeared 200 million years ago, belong to a reptile. They are called flying lizards. These are the earliest vertebrates to have learned to fly.
Scientists assumed that more or less know what were the pterosaurs. In particular, it was believed that these distant relatives of dinosaurs on the skin was fluffy similar to wool fibers.
This ancient ‘hairy dragon’ may have sported primitive feathers https://t.co/d0FTVBMflA pic.twitter.com/pjTrNUx0yL
— PrGareth (@PrGareth) 17 Dec 2018
But now a new study shows that these fibers may have been a kind of primitive feathers. It would change the idea that the first native speakers of feathers was some dinosaurs.
Paleontologists Michael Benton from the University of Bristol and Baoyu Jiang of Nanjing University in China, and their colleagues studied fossils of two pterosaur the size of a pigeon, found even earlier in the North-East of China. Two pterosaur attracted the attention of researchers because they were “extremely hairy,” said Benton.
Fortunately, the samples stored in Nanjing University and Chinese Academy of geological Sciences was not covered by a protective varnish, applied by scientists in many fossils in the past. A thorough study of the pterosaurs under a microscope showed that they possess four types of hairs, similar in structure to modern feathers. They have helped the animal regulate body temperature, reported in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. They could also play a role in the aerodynamics of flight, colouring and may improve the feeling of animals, say the authors.