He did not invent the wheel, but he did invent the spokes. These enabled the pterosaur to fly without breaking its neck.
Pterosaur is the absolute record holder: it is the largest of the vertebrates that can fly. The wingspan of this flying dinosaur is about 12 meters, which is more than the average length of a sports plane. And a ridiculous eight-foot neck made of just eight or nine massive vertebrae; The largest of them was nearly three feet long.
This reptile appeared over 200 million years ago, and survived until it ended a meteor impact 66 million years ago – for both pterosaurs and dinosaurs. The animal has always fascinated scientists. It is already remarkable that such a neck with such vertebrae does not break at the slightest degree. And most surprisingly, the pterodactyla could fly with such an object.
His bones should be very light. Previous research had already indicated that its vertebrae resemble thin-walled tubes containing a smaller tube through which the spinal cord passes. But it was unclear how such a construction could withstand the weight without breaking.
Like a spiral staircase
This is not easy to investigate, since pterosaur fossil remains are rare, and certainly with an intact 3D structure. However, such rare fossils have been found in the Formation of the Kim Kim, a mountain range on the border between Morocco and Algeria, and a good source of fossil remains from the era of dinosaurs and pterosaurs.
British researchers were able to examine a cervical vertebra from Morocco in an X-ray scanner and were surprised to see a structure that had not been seen in any other animal species, neither in other dinosaurs nor in the mammals that live now.
They report in the Journal of Commerce that pterosaurs do indeed have tube-in-tube vertebrae iScience. But thin rods of bone can be seen between the two. In cross section, it looks like a bicycle wheel, with the rim being the outer tube, the hub as the inner, and the magnifiers in between. And they turn, just like the wheels of a bicycle, until they lie on top of each other and pass through the vertebra like a spiral staircase.
Paleontologists at the University of Portsmouth who discovered this brought in engineers to discover how durable this structure was. They calculated: incredibly solid. A few dozen of these stethoscopes per cervical vertebra double the carrying capacity of that long neck.
An extremely lightweight yet extremely sturdy build that made pterosaurs take off. It is strange indeed that the talking construction is nowhere to be found in the animal kingdom. With the extinction of the pterosaur, a unique flying maker was lost.
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