Pterosaurs could fly non-stop for 10,000 miles

October 20th, 2010 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

National Geographic London, Oct 20 (IANS) Giant pterosaurs may have been capable of flying up to 10,000 miles (16,000 km) non-stop, according to a new research.

The huge flying creatures, some of which had a wingspan of more than 30 feet, used updrafts of warm air and wind currents to fly over long distances.

Michael Habib, paleontologist at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, US, said: “They probably only flapped for a few minutes at a time…and then their muscles had to recover. In between, they’re going to use unpowered flight and glide.”

The effort required to get airborne would use large amounts of energy, meaning that each pterosaur would burn around 72 kg fat reserves on each trip, reports the Daily Mail.

Pterosaurs dominated the skies between the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods more than 65 million years ago, according to the National Geographic.

They were four-limbed animals with membranous wings that stretched between their front and back legs.

The biggest type of pterosaur weighed around 190 kg and is the biggest animal to have ever flown. They were successful residents of the earth for 150 million years.

The new research raises the startling possibility that pterosaurs could have criss-crossed the globe and visited different continents.

The research team modelled the pterosaurs based on what is now known about their body mass, fat and wing shapes.

They also looked at new ways that the pterosaur flew, disregarding previous models which had based its action on that of the albatross - the largest living bird.

Previous studies have suggested that the pterosaur may even have been flightless because it was too big to get off the ground. Instead, Habib’s team says that the large pterosaurs may have launched themselves into the air using all four limbs.

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