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Current Affairs

Monkeydactyl

Date: 16 April 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers have identified a pterosaur species that had opposable thumbs, which is the earliest known indication of limb.

 

Details

  • The pterosaur species were a form of reptiles, who were close cousins of dinosaurs and some of the first animals after insects to evolve flight.

  • These species evolved into various other species. Some of them were as large as f-16 aircrafts others were as small as paper planes.

  • Scientists discovered the new pterosaur fossil in the Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning, China. It has been officially named as Kunpengopterus antipollicatus.

 

Discovery

  • “Antipollicatus” is a term for “opposite thumbs and it was added to the name as the findings were the first discovery of a pterosaur with an opposed thumb.

  • X-ray study of the forelimb morphology and musculature suggests that it could have used its hand for grasping. This suggests it lived on trees.

  • The recently discovered fossil is older than the one scientists identified to have lived in western Canada.

 

Significance of discovery

  • The opposable thumb is important for having a grip of objects. Some ancient monkeys and apes also had opposable thumbs.

  • This feature allows humans to have a tip-to-tip precision grip while holding smaller objects that is superior to non-human primates.

  • The opposable thumb allowed the common ancestor of all primates to cling on to tree branches.