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Re: vaulting pterosaur launch, questions
At least primtive pterosaurs appear to be more specialized for arborreal
life than derived pterosaurs (the opposite of birds). That raises the
issue of how complex the stages that pterosaurs went through prior to
flight may have been. Now if we could just get some more fossils!
Indeed, we need those fossils! Dave Peters might disagree here, but I
don't think the earliest pterosaurs known are particularly primitive, at
least not in regards to flight. Some Triassic pterosaur already show
massive reduction of the hindlimb, for example. I don't think they're
telling us much about the origin of pterosaur flight at all.
I also think it's difficult to tell whether pterosaurs were radiating
from an arboreal or terrestrial origin because (Cretaceous) arboreal
pterosaurs may have been replaced by birds. Maybe they were radiating
into arboreal niches, but were beaten by those pesky (and in my opinion,
obviously inferior) birds.