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Scientists have discovered the smallest foot-

February 14 2008
02:22

Paleontologists from China and Brazil found in Liaoning Province (northeastern China) are well-preserved fossil skeleton of a pterodactyl-sized sparrow. Pterodactyl "hidden flying forest dweller", as it is known scientists, is the smallest of all found so far in the world of forest pterodactyls.

The work of scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro published in the online version of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This tiny creature lived roughly 120 million years ago and has a wingspan he was only 25 cm "Although the pterodactyl was found too small ... we still believe that he - the progenitor of the giant pterosaurs," - said Wang Xiaolin, director of the group, which includes another Chinese scholar and two Brazilian.

In toothless "forest hermit" long and narrow beak and large eye sockets. Until then, scientists have discovered in Germany toothed pterosaur with a wingspan of 18 cm, however, according to scientists, this specimen did not survive after being hatched from an egg.

Chinese and Brazilian scientists say that they learned the instance is "pterosaurs teenager, already knew how to fly. Unusual small pterodactyl ate insects.

Scientists hope that studying the new findings will help them better understand the biology of the pterodactyls that lived on the continent.

According to the authors, this being a new chapter in the evolution of flying reptiles. Pterodactyls are the first species of reptiles, capable of flying through the air.

Pterodactyls ruled the skies during the Mesozoic, for 160 million years or more. Xiaolin Wang and his colleagues since 2000, already found in the western part of Liaoning Province and neighboring regions several species of pterodactyls. "Based on all the found instances of the western part of Liaoning Province is home to representatives of several superorders pterodactyls," - said Wang Xiaolin.

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