The fossil remain of the first flying vertebrates, the pterosaurs, have intrigued paleontologists for more than two centuries. How such large creatures, which weighed in some cases as much as a piloted hangglider and had wingspans from 8 to 12 meters, solved the problems of powered flight, and exactly what these creatures were-reptiles or birds- are among the questions scientist have puzzled over.
Perhaps the least controversial assertion about the pterosaurs is that they were reptiles. Their skulls, pelvises, and hind feet are reptilian. The anatomy of their wings suggests that they did not evolve into the class of birds. In pterosaurs a greatly elongated fourth finger of each forelimb supported a wing like membrane. The other fingers were short and reptilian, with sharp claws, In birds the second finger is the principle strut of the wing, which consists primarily of features. If the pterosaur walked or remained stationary, the fourth finger, and with it the wing, could only turn upward in an extended inverted V-shape along side of the animal’s body.
The pterosaurs resembled both birds and bats in their overall structure and proportions. This is not surprising because the design of any flying vertebrate is subject to aerodynamic constraints. Both the pterosaurs and the birds have hollow bones, a feature that represents a saving in weight. In the birds, however, these bones are reinforced more massively by internal struts.
Although scales typically cover reptiles, the pterosaurs probably had hairy coats. T.H. Huxley reasoned that flying vertebrates must have been warm – blooded because flying implies a high internal temperature. Huxley speculated that a coat of hair would insulate against loss of body heat and might streamline the body to reduce drag in flight. The recent discovery of a pterosaur specimen covered in long, dense, and relatively thick hairlike fossil material was the first clear evidenced that his reasoning was correct.
Efforts to explain how the pterosaurs became air-borne have led to suggestions that they launched themselves by jumping from cliffs, by dropping from trees, or even by rising into light winds from the crests of waves. Each hypothesis has its difficulties. The first wrongly assumes that the pterosaur’s hind feet resembled a bat’s and could served as hooks by which the animal could bang in preparation for flight. The second hypothesis seems unlikely because large pterosaurs could not have landed in trees without damaging their wings. The birds calls for high waves to channels updrafts. The wind that made such waves however, might have been too strong for the pterosaurs to control their flight once airborne.
It can be inferred from the passage that scientists now generally agree that the
A) enormous wingspan of the pterosaurs enable them to fly great distances
B) structure of the skeleton of the pterosaurs suggests a close evolutionary relationship to bats.
C)fossil remains of the pterosaurs reveal how they solved the problem of powered flight.
D) pterosaurs were reptiles
E) pterosaurs walked on all fours
According to the passage, the skeleton of the pterosaurs can be distinguished from that of a bird by the
A) size of its wingspan
B) presence of hollow spaces in its bones
C) anatomic origin of its wing strut
D) presence of hook-like projections on its hind feet
E) location of the shoulder joint joining the wing to its body
It can be inferred from the passage that some scientists believe that pterosaurs
A) lived near large bodies of water
B) had sharp teeth for tearing food
C) were atacked and eaten by other large reptiles
D) had longer tails than many birds
E) consumed twice their weight daily to maintain their body temperature
Thank you for your kudoses Everyone!!!
"It always seems impossible until its done."