Illustrated Encyclopedia of Prehistoric Flying Reptiles, The

Peter Wellnhofer
Flying reptiles of the Mesozoic Era were contemporaries of the dinosaurs, but whereas dinosaurs were masters of the land, flying reptiles secured the air as their ecological niche, the first vertebrates to develop the power of active flight in evolutionary history. And, just like dinosaurs, they came in many shapes and sizes. In this exciting book Peter Wellnhofer provides a comprehensive review of what we know about the appearance, lifestyle and relationships of all flying reptiles so far discovered. His opening chapters explain what the flying reptiles were, analysing their origins and relationships, their place in the animal family tree, and revealing the nature of their body forms and the way in which their physiology was adapted to flight. He also provides a succinct history of the discovery of flying reptile fossils worldwide from the time of the identification of the first flying reptile remains from Solnhofen by Csosimo Alessandro Collini in 1784 to the present day. The three central chapters describe all the flying reptiles that we know from the three Periods of the Mesozoic Era: the Triassic, the Jurassic, and the Cretaceous. These chapters are lavishly illustrated with color photos of fossil specimens, black and white skeletal drawings, and, with 16 color artworks of the major genera painted by John Sibbick. These paintings are likely to be recognized as the finest restorations of flying reptiles in their landscapes yet published. Additional color diagrams reveal the location of fossil finds, the length of time that each flying reptile flourished, and its size in relation to man. Concluding chapters consider the likely lifestyles of these reptiles and possible reasons for extinctions, a history of all major flying reptile reconstructions and models that have been created around the world, and a comparative analysis of the other vertebrates that have mastered flight - birds and bats.

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