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115 mln-yr-old pterosaur could not only walk and fly, but also sail across the sea.

Byline: ANI

Washington, October 25 (ANI): A team of scientists has determined that a particular pterosaur pterosaur (tĕr`əsôr') [Gr., = winged lizard], extinct flying reptile (commonly called pterodactyl [Gr., = wing finger]) of the order Pterosauria, common in the late Triassic and Cretaceous periods, from approximately 228 to 65 million  that existed 115 million years ago was a master of nature's drawing boards, as it not only could walk and fly, but also sail across the sea.

With a tail rudder on its head and a spindly spin·dly  
adj. spin·dli·er, spin·dli·est
Slender and elongated, especially in a way that suggests weakness.


[-dlier, -dliest
, bat-like body, Tapejara wellnhoferi, the pterosaur, may appear fit for nothing but extinction.

However, researchers at Texas Tech University, the University of Kansas The University of Kansas (often referred to as KU or just Kansas) is an institution of higher learning in Lawrence, Kansas. The main campus resides atop Mount Oread.  and University of Florida University of Florida is the third-largest university in the United States, with 50,912 students (as of Fall 2006) and has the eighth-largest budget (nearly $1.9 billion per year). UF is home to 16 colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes.  have found that the animal's strange body actually made it a mastery of nature's drawing boards.

Not only could it walk and fly, but it could also sail across the sea.

Tapejara, a native coastal dweller of what is now Brazil, was an excellent flyer that also had an innate nautical knowledge of sailing, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Sankar Chatterjee, Horn Professor of Geosciences and curator of paleontology paleontology (pā'lēəntŏl`əjē) [Gr.,= study of early beings], science of the life of past geologic periods based on fossil remains.  at the Museum of Texas Tech University.

Much like a Transformer, it could manipulate its body to match the same configuration as the world's fastest modern windsurfers and sail across the surface of the ocean in search of prey.

Then, it could take off quickly if the toothy underwater predators of its time got too close for comfort.

"The free ride from the wind would allow these animals to cover a large territory in search of food," Chatterjee said. "Apparently, these pterosaurs This list of pterosaurs is a comprehensive listing of all genera that have ever been included in the order Pterosauria, excluding purely vernacular terms. The list includes all commonly accepted genera, but also genera that are now considered invalid, doubtful (nomen dubium  knew the secrets of sailing that many novice sailors do not," he added.

Chatterjee and his research team determined Tapejara's sailing ability by studying the aero-hydrodynamics of pterosaur wings through physics and computer simulation.

According to Chatterjee, the basic design of Tapejara is a cross between two types of sailing vessels.

The "hull" of the pterosaur is formed by dipping the breast bone into the water. The two hind legs directed backward functioned like lateral hulls.

This design allowed the animal to skate on top of the water on triple surfboards just like the Wiebel - the world's fastest trimaran windsurfer.

This hull design minimizes contact with water, offers stability and enhances speed.

Rather than depend on a tailwind for propulsion, which doesn't maximize speed, the animal probably opted to use a two-mast-and-jib design.

The animal probably lifted its wings up vertically to act like sails during surface swimming.

Rod-like structures called actinofibrils served as sail battens, giving stiffness to the wing skin so it wouldn't tear from the breeze.

The cranial cranial /cra·ni·al/ (-al)
1. pertaining to the cranium.

2. toward the head end of the body; a synonym of superior in humans and other bipeds.

 rudder functioned as a sailboat's jib and helped with direction control.

"In downwind sailing, the wings act like parachutes, and the air is decelerated," Chatterjee said. (ANI)

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Oct 26, 2009
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