Why aren’t pterosaurs classed as dinosaurs? © Getty Images

Why aren’t pterosaurs classed as dinosaurs?

Asked by: Neil Black, Sheffield

Pterosaurs (flying prehistoric reptiles) and dinosaurs (also reptiles) share a common reptilian ancestor that lived some 240 million years ago, but the two groups then followed different evolutionary paths.

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Dinosaurs are characterised by distinctive features of the skeleton, including a window-like opening in the pelvis where the thigh bone connects. Pterosaurs don’t have this joint, and they have their own unique features such as extra-long fourth fingers that support their wings. Pterosaurs are no more dinosaurs than we are chimpanzees.

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