A small dragon-like species of wingless reptile that lived 237 million years ago has been identified as one of the earliest ancestors of pterosaurs in a new study.
Similarities between fossils of the so-called lagerpetids, which were wingless but had characteristically long hind legs, and winged pterosaurs were revealed in CT scans.
Although one could fly and the other couldn’t, pterosaurs and lagerpetids shared some unique features – such as the shape of the inner ear and brain anatomy.
The less well-known cousins of dinosaurs, pterosaurs ranged from the size of a fighter jet to a model aeroplane, and had an adept flying ability.
Pterosaurs were the earliest reptiles to evolve powered flight, dominating the skies for 150 million years before their extinction some 66 million years ago.
A partial skeleton of lagerpeton (hips, leg, and vertebrae) from around 235…