World Wednesday: Fossils show pterosaurs had primitive dinosaur feathers


By Dmitry Bogdanov - [email protected], CC BY-SA 3.0,

Sordes, as depicted here, evidences the possibility that pterosaurs had a cruropatagium – a membrane connecting the legs that, unlike the chiropteran uropatagium, leaves the tail free.

Isabella Kanzius , Deputy News Editor

In China, two fossils have been found that prove that pterosaurs had feathers like dinosaurs did. Therefore, feathers may have evolved earlier than scientists thought.

The feathers of this species were small and tufty. The wings were made of skin, muscle and fibre; therefore, they were not flight feathers.

The creatures are proven to have had hair on the back of their heads from fossils found in the 1840s.

The feathers could have evolved in two ways. First, very similar feathers could have evolved on four different occasions. This could have occurred in pterosaurs, in theropod dinosaurs like velociraptors, and in two other groups of plant-eating ornithischian dinosaurs.

Another possibility is that they evolved in the common ancestor of all these groups. Scientists think this species had feathers but lost them.

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