From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Azhdarchid pterosaurs
Mains level : Not Much
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).
What are pterosaurs?
- 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.
Revise the geological timescale from your NCERT textbook.
- 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.