How giant pterosaurs soared the high skies

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Washington, Nov 24 (ANI): A new research has revealed interesting insights into the flying techniques of pterosaurs.

The ancient reptiles that flew over the heads of dinosaurs - were at their best in gentle tropical breezes, soaring over hillsides and coastlines or floating over land and sea on thermally driven air currents, said the study from the University of Bristol.

Their slow flight and the variable wing geometry enabled them to land very gently reducing the chance of breaking their paper- thin bones.

"Pterosaur wings were adapted to a low-speed flight regime that minimizes sink rate. This regime is unsuited to marine style dynamic soaring adopted by many seabirds which requires high flight speed coupled with high aerodynamic efficiency, but is well suited to thermal/slope soaring. The low sink rate would have allowed pterosaurs to use the relatively weak thermal lift found over the sea," said Colin Palmer.

"Since the bones of pterosaurs were thin-walled and thus highly susceptible to impact damage, the low-speed landing capability would have made an important contribution to avoiding injury and so helped to enable pterosaurs to attain much larger sizes than extant birds.

"The trade-off would have been an extreme vulnerability to strong winds and turbulence, both in flight and on the ground, like that experienced by modern-day paragliders." (ANI)

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