Thursday, November 18, 2010

This Just In: Pterosaurs Can Fly!

On the Size and Flight Diversity of Giant Pterosaurs, the Use of Birds as Pterosaur Analogues and Comments on Pterosaur Flightlessness. 2010. M.P. Witton & M.B. Habib.PLoS ONE 5(11): e13982.

Grrr! Kong hate stupid press release catch phrases!
Controversial claims that enormous prehistoric winged beasts could not fly have been refuted by the most comprehensive study to date which asserts that giant pterosaurs were skilled in flight.
New research indicates that the giant pterosaurs took off by using all four of their limbs and effectively ‘pole-vaulting’ over their wings using their leg muscles and pushing from the ground using their powerful arm muscles. Once airborne they could fly huge distances and even cross continents.

These creatures were not birds; they were flying reptiles with a distinctly different skeletal structure, wing proportions and muscle mass. They would have achieved flight in a completely different way to birds and would have had a lower angle of take off and initial flight trajectory. The anatomy of these creatures is unique.”

Drs Witton and Habib suggest that, with up to 50 kg of forelimb muscle, the creatures could easily have launched themselves into the air despite their massive size and weight.

They concluded that not only could pterosaurs fly, they could do so extremely well and could have traveled huge distances and even crossed continents. It’s unlikely that they would need to flap continuously to remain aloft but would flap powerfully in short bursts with their large size allowing them to achieve rapid cruising speeds. link
Vist Pterosaur-Net Blog, a blog in the spirit of the palaeoblog, but all about pterosaurs. Thanks for the Kong image guys!
Too bad the "junk in the trunk" entry slips off the front page. Victoria, shouldn't that be immortalized in a new Currie Lab t-shirt?