posted on Oct, 5 2005 @ 07:48 PM
Two new species of flying reptiles that belong to the "pterosaurs" family have been found in fossil rich north eastern China. The 120 million year
old reptiles had evolved the ability to fly and are related to European groups never before found in China. The find includes a partial skeleton along
with a jaw and skull and shows that the pointy teethed reptile had a wing span of 2.4 metres. The discovery was made in the Liaoning Province of
China, at Jehol in the same area that remains of other prehistoric creatures such as dinosaurs, bird and fish have been found.
The findings gives scientists a further opportunity to examine the relationship between birds and pterosaurs.
Fossils of about 40 pterosaurs and more than 1,000 birds have been found in the area.
Pterosaurs lived from about 228 million to 65 million years ago. Their size ranged from those of a small bird to a creature with a wing-span of up to
18 metres. They had hollow bones, thin bodies, large brains, crests and long beaks.
Flight in pterosaurs evolved separately from birds. Scientists had thought that the creatures glided on the wind, but research has shown that large
species could fly. Some species had a hair-like covering on their body.
They concluded that birds were more diverse and outnumbered pterosaurs. Birds also tended to stay in inland regions while flying reptiles dominated
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This is a rare find in that these sorts of creatures were previously thought to be native to Europe only. The area being worked is fossil rich so
there is a good chance of more discoveries coming out of the area that challenge previously held beliefs by the scientific community.
The birds were small with a wing span of 2.4 metres as compared to other flying ancient giants discovered in the past.
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