September 9, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

“Beautifully Engineered”: Giant Pterosaur Compared to Aircraft

Imagine an “aircraft engineer trying to convert a Eurofighter into a jumbo jet while it was still flying.”  That’s how David Martill (U of Portsmouth, UK) described the abilities of a baby pterosaur growing into a large adult, a BBC News story says.  Evidence suggests that pterosaurs were capable of flying soon after hatching.  Some had wingspans up to 60 feet, nearly six times that of the largest living bird, and as big as a medium size commercial aircraft or F14 fighter, according to MSNBC.
    An article in The Scotsman provides further comparisons with aircraft design:

Their enormous sail-like wings, made of a thin hair-covered membrane between their two front limbs, allowed them to use air currents to fly with little effort over huge distances.
    “Their flight membranes could be controlled by adjusting the angle of the forelimbs at the shoulder, the elbow and at the base of the hyper-elongated flight finger,” said Dr Martill.  “In addition it could be controlled by movement of the hind limbs at the hips, the knees and to some degree at the ankle.
    “This gave pterosaurs far more flight control than birds of equivalent size.”
    Analysis of fossils has shown the intricate details of its super-strong but light bone structure.  Dr Martill said they could even be used to help with modern aircraft design.
    “They took bone to new limits in terms of making it thin yet strong,” he said.  “Their skeletons were very lightly constructed and most of their bones were hollow and enclosed an air sac system connected to the lungs.
    “The bone itself was composed of many microscopically thin layers stacked together like a spirally bound plywood tube.
    “Sometimes the bones had cross-sectional shapes that provided added strength, such as D, T and A shapes.”
  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)

Pterosaurs have no evolutionary line to any living creatures in the fossil record, the BBC article states.  The Scotsman article claims that their nearest relatives are crocodiles, but the MSNBC news article notes that they had a “very different shoulder joint” among all the other adaptations for flying.
    Fossils of a variety of forms have been found in such widely-scattered locales as Brazil, North America, Mexico, Romania, and Israel.  Contrary to previous ideas that pictured pterosaurs as mere gliders, Martill thinks they flew rather elegantly: “Their ability to utilise air currents, thermals and ground effects would astonish aeroplane designers.”  They were “beautifully engineered,” he remarked.

Engineering is not the language of Darwinism.  The Darwin Party lacks the training to deal with the facts of biology as observed, and the history of biology as read in the fossil record.  The article states, “Indeed, there is still great debate about where exactly they should be placed in the evolution of life forms on Earth.”  The answer is, of course, they should be taken out of the evolution fairy tale book, and placed into the engineering textbook, where “pterosaurs could inform modern aircraft design.”  Were the references to evolution really useful for anything, other than entertainment?  We would like to see the transitional forms between crocodiles and beautifully engineered aircraft, or watch some crocodile gliding experiments.

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Categories: Amazing Facts, Fossils

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