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Darwin's Wing Takes Flight

  • 14-10-2009 10:48pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 30,747 ✭✭✭✭ Galvasean


    This cheerful fellow greeted me on page 3 of the Metro newspaper today:
    091013-new-flying-reptile-pterosaur-darwin-picture_big.jpg
    accompanied by the all too overused play on words, "Jurassic Lark'. Named Darwinopterus ('Darwin's Wing') in honour of the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's famous book On The Origin Of Species....
    While I respect the genius of Charles Darwin (bonus points for anyone who spotted my little nod there) as much as the next man, I am getting a little fed up with so many creatures being named after him now (for example; Darwinius aka 'Ida').
    But I digress. To the topic at hand:
    Pterosaurs ruled the skies of the Mesozoic era, which lasted from about 250 to 65 million years ago. But there is a gaping evolutionary hole between the smaller, ancient pterosaurs and more modern ones, which grew to gargantuan proportions and, unlike their ancestors, could walk.

    "Our new pterosaur is great, because it jumps right in that gap that we've known about," said Unwin, whose research appears today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, said that Darwinopterus "is a really cool creature, because it links the two major phases of pterosaur evolution."
    Full National Geographic article here.

    Picture by Mark Witton


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