A new study finds that changes in the tree canopy facilitated the evolution of the first-ever sledding reptiles

Newswise—Researchers searched for near-perfect fossils of the world’s first sledding crawler with a fine-toothed comb and as-yet-unidentified untangled sides only to discover that it was a change in the tree’s canopy that likely facilitated such a flight in these creatures.

Since the first excavations Coelurosaurus elivensis Discovered in 1907, there has been intense debate about how the animal actually lived during the Late Permian period – 260 million to 252 million years ago – and how its unique body parts fit together.

By grouping enough fossils together to create a near-perfect reconstruction of the skeleton, new research provides new insights into the morphology and habits of the tetrapod; And it decisively identifies how he became the first known crawler to slither.

The answer to the latter derives from the canopy of the forest in which this unusual creature lived – experts from the French National Museum of Natural History, in Paris (or the National Museum of Natural History) and the Staatliches für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, in Germany suggested.

Explain their findings, today, in peer review Journal of Vertebrate PaleontologyLead author Valentin Bova, from the Paléontologie-Paris Research Center at the French Museum of Natural History, says: “Pennsylvania forests, although taxonomically and vertically heterogeneous, have open canopy layers with spatially separated tree taxa resulting in Little overlap in the crown.In contrast, cesular forests show evidence of denser communities suggestive of more continuous canopy layers.Such a change in forest structure could explain why no gliders were reported before Weigeltisaurids despite several descriptions of amniotes Arboreal or shrubland from Pennsylvania and Cizolarian sediments.

“These dragons weren’t shaped in mythical bonfires – they simply needed to move from one place to another. As it turns out, paragliding was the most efficient mode of transportation, and here, in this new study, we see how their morphology enabled it.”

The team examined three known fossils of C. elivensis, In addition to a number of related specimens — all of them belong to the family Weigeltisauridae. Their research focused on the postcranial part – the body, including the trunk, limbs, and the remarkable gliding apparatus known as the patagium. The latter is the membranous flap that extends over the forelegs and hind limbs, and is also found in living animals such as flying squirrels, gliders, and sugar canes.

Previous analysis of reptiles assumed that its patagium was supported by bones extending from the ribs, as in modern times. Draco Species of Southeast Asia – which to this day amaze observers with their paragliding flights among the trees of the rainforests inhabiting them.

However, this new comprehensive examination indicates that the patagium C. elvensis It extends either from the stomach – the arrangement of bones in the skin that covers the abdomen of some reptiles, including crocodiles and dinosaurs – or from the muscles of the trunk. This means that the glider sat lower on the abdomen than modern gliding lizards.

Combining these findings with other findings from bone structure observed in the fossils, the researchers have come up with a more precise view of how this graceful creature moved through its arboreal habitat.

“The sharp, curved claws and compact body support the idea that it was perfectly adapted to move tree trunks vertically. The similarity in the length of the fore and hind limbs also indicates that he was an expert climber – their relative length helped it stay close to the tree’s surface, preventing it from swaying and losing its balance.” Valentin adds pufa, that its long, slender body and tail-like tail, which is also seen in contemporary arboreal reptiles, further supports this interpretation.

And its resemblance to Draco?

C. elvensis While her habits were likely similar to those of her modern counterpart, Valentin Bova says, we see subtle differences nonetheless.

“Likes Draco lizards Coelorosaurus He was able to hold the patagium with his front claws, hold it in flight, and even modify it, allowing for greater maneuverability. However, an additional joint with one finger may have enhanced this ability. This may be a necessary compensation for the lower position of the patagium, which is likely to make it more unstable.”