Prehistoric 'Runway' Used by Flying Reptile

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A prehistoric runway for flying pterosaurs has been discovered for the first time.

Scientists uncovered the first known landing tracks of one of these extinct flying reptiles at a site dubbed "Pterosaur Beach," in the fine-grained limestone deposits of an ancient lagoon in southwestern France dating back some 140 million years ago to the Late Jurassic.

The footprints suggest the pterosaur - a "pterodactyloid" with a wingspan roughly three feet wide (one meter) - flapped to stall its flight during landing, and then planted both its two-inch-long feet (five cm) simultaneously at a high angle.

The reptile next dragged its toes briefly, took a short "stutter step" - perhaps a hop with both feet - and landed, settling its hands. It finally adjusted its posture and ambled off normally on all fours.

"No other trackways ascribed to pterosaurs in the world have shown either landings or takeoffs," said researcher Kevin Padian, a paleontologist at the University of California at Berkeley...

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