They described the animal as the world’s first flying reptile. Who? Scientists at the Natural History Museum of France. It is called Coelurosauravus elivensis. It has the shape of a dragon. It wore a pair of thin membranes extending from its torso to its forelimbs. They formed a wing-like structure.
The first fossils of this animal were discovered in 1907. It is about 10 centimeters long. It lived between 260 and 252 million years ago. Researchers want to unravel the mystery of its evolution. They believe they have solved the mystery.
“The tops of the trees overlapped. This allowed the animals to move through the trees without having to descend to the ground. They avoided predators.” Explained study lead author Valentin Buffa. Over time, this drove the evolution of gliding adaptations.
They were able to reconstruct their skeleton. They used fossils from three individuals collected over the years from various locations. The most complete of them is from Madagascar. The study was published in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
The wings were from the lower torso. The scientists determined this based on the position of the bones. They compared the proposed location of the membranes of C. elivensis with those of contemporary lizards Draco.
“We rely on the known behavior of Draco C. elivensis was able to flex its wrists backward. It interlaced the claws of its fingers between the scales on the top of the wing,” Buffa explained. “This allowed it to extend the wing and keep it open even at higher speeds,” he said.
The length and curvature of the patagials make it possible to reconstruct a very wide wing in C. elivensis. He detailed that this would have generated a lot of lift while in the air. “Which probably allowed it to glide a significant distance.”
The researchers described this animal as the world’s first flying reptile. A reptile that learned to fly to flee from danger.