Apr 16, 2021

This Flying ‘Monkeydactyl’ Is The Only Known Pterosaur With Opposed Thumbs

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A small, flying reptile glides beneath the canopy of an ancient forest, scouring the trees for tasty bugs. She spots a cicada buzzing in the boughs of a ginkgo tree, then swoops down to snatch it up in her beak. The bug flees; the reptile follows, grasping swiftly along the branches with her sharp claws until – snatch! – she grabs the bug with her opposable thumbs.

It’s not your typical picture of a pterosaur – those iconic, winged reptiles that lived through most of the Mesozoic era (from about 252 million to 66 million years ago).

But according to a new study published April 12 in the journal Current Biology, a newly-described Jurassic pterosaur appears to have lived its life among the trees, hunting, and climbing with the help of its two opposable thumbs – one on each of its three-fingered hands.

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