Biggest flying animals - level 3

Biggest flying animals - level 3

09-04-2014 07:00

The largest flying vertebrates in earth's history are taking to the air at The American Museum of Natural History.

A new exhibition at the New York museum will examine the life and history of the dinosaur era reptiles known as pterosaurs, which were the first back-boned animals to evolve powered flight.

“Pterosaurs as their own unique group, they were the first animals with backbones to achieve true powered flapping flight, so that they’re really unique in that way. They also represent the largest animals we know of ever to have powered flight. Some of them have wing spans up to ten meters across, which is a huge, huge animal. But as their own group, they’re not related to birds, they’re not related to bats, they’re just a unique group of reptiles that are closely related to dinosaurs but aren’t dinosaurs. When they evolved, they were very diverse and they lived on every continent.”

While the reptiles may have become extinct 66 million years ago, scientists believe that pterosaurs diversified into more than 150 species of different shapes and sizes across the planet.

Difficult words: vertebrate (animal which has a backbone), reptile (cold-blooded animal), evolve (change their bodies over time to be able to fly), backbone (row of bones down the centre of your back), diverse (different), diversify (change).

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