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Dinosaur print - image by mcdlttx
Dinosaur print

Press Release - 08 October 2008

Bath Science Café: Giant pterosaurs - nice engineering

Airframe engineers and material scientists could do well to study the flying reptile - the pterosaurs, says Dr David Martill, who will speak at the next Bath Science Café (7.30pm, Monday 13 October in The Raven pub, Queen Street).

Pterosaurs existed in the Mesozoic Era but they made their first appearance in the late Triassic as relatively small animals and persisted until the end of the Cretaceous, when their demise coincided with that of the more famous dinosaurs.

During the late Jurassic, some pterosaurs underwent skeletal modifications that permitted them to increase their wing spans, and by the very end of the Cretaceous the very last of the pterosaurs had wing spans of between 9 and 11 metres.

“Such large spans, matching that of the Spitfire fighter plane, seem at odds with today's flying vertebrates that rarely exceed 35kg with a wingspan of four metres,” explains Dr Martill, who is a Reader in Palaeobiology at the University of Portsmouth.

“Pterosaurs appear to have overcome the restrictions apparently limiting span and mass in birds by fine engineering their wing skeleton, and adopting a wing configuration more akin to bats, than birds.

“Airframe engineers and material scientists could do well to study pterosaurs.”

The talk will be held in The Raven pub in Queen Street in the centre of town. No tickets or reservations are required - just turn up at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

Organisers will ask for a small voluntary donation to cover travel costs for the speakers. The next Bath Science Café event: GM plants as a sustainable source of fish oils? will be on Monday 10 November.

To register for email alerts about forthcoming Science Café events, contact Rod Scott


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