The fossil remains of the first flying vertebrates, the pterosaurs, have intrigued paleontologists for more than two centuries. How such large creatures, which weighed in some cases as much as a piloted hang-glider (hang-glider: n. 悬挂式滑翔机) and had wingspans from 8 to 12 meters, solved the problems of powered flight, and exactly what these creatures were—reptiles or birds—are among the questions scientists have puzzled over.
Perhaps the least controversial assertion about the pterosaurs is that they were reptiles. Their skulls, pelvises, and hind feet are reptilian. The anatomy of their wings suggests that they did not evolve into the class of birds. In pterosaurs a greatly elongated fourth finger of each forelimb supported a wing-like membrane. The other fingers were short and reptilian, with sharp claws. In birds the second finger is the principal strut of the wing, which consists primarily of feathers. If the pterosaurs walked on all fours, the three short fingers may have been employed for grasping. When a pterosaur walked or remained stationary, the fourth finger, and with it the wing, could only turn upward in an extended inverted V-shape along each side of the animal’s body
The pterosaurs resembled both birds and bats in their overall structure and proportions. This is not surprising because the design of any flying vertebrate is subject to aerodynamic constraints. Both the pterosaurs and the birds have hollow bones, a feature that represents a savings in weight. In the birds, however, these bones are reinforced more massively by internal struts......…………