Have you heard of flying dinosaurs named pterodactyls [terr-oh-dak-tlz]? Well, you may be surprised to hear that they are not technically dinosaurs. Pterodactyls, part of the group pterosaurs [terr-oh-sorz], were reptiles. They were related to dinosaurs, which are also reptiles, but do not belong to that group.

Pterosaurs were the first vertebrates that were able to fly by flapping their wings. This makes them all the more interesting. Have you ever thought about how it is possible that some animals started to fly? How did they get their wings? The general answer is: evolution.

But here the mystery deepens. For a long time it seemed like there was a huge evolutionary gap between pterosaurs and most other animals. How did they come about? By looking at fossils, we found out that lagerpetids [la-jer-pe-tids] (a small group of non-flying reptiles) are close relatives of pterosaurs. Finding out about lagerpetids told us a bit about how pterosaurs started to fly.

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Summary of research
Researchers found out that the first flying vertebrates were very closely related to a small dinosaur-like group of animals.
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Scientific field
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April 2021

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