The Jurassic Period’s Archaeopteryx is famous for being the world’s first known bird, but now-extinct reptiles such as pterosaurs and kuehneosaurs were flying as far back as 225 million years ago, during the Triassic; before large dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
The Famous Winged Archeopteryx Fossil
In that primordial land so long ago, many strange creatures had wings and took to the skies. These even included some medium-sized reptiles, which fed on smaller dinos (a dragon if I ever heard of one). The smaller ones glided between trees searching for insects to hunt. Smaller reptiles used extensions from their ribs to form large gliding surfaces on the side of the body.
Kuehneosaurs, grew to 70 centimeters long, were first found in the 1950s in an ancient cave system near Bristol, England. Their lateral wings were always assumed to be a form of flying adaptation, but their aerodynamic capability had never been studied before. It turns out that, although stable, the wings were not amazingly effective.
Kuehneosuchuses with long “wings,” it turns out, was a glider (it has elongated wings), while Kuehneosauruses, with much shorter “wings,” was a parachutist. However, because the two forms are so alike in other respects, it is possible that they are males and females of the same animal.