Darwinopterus, the New Flying Reptile

Fossils of flying reptiles come in two versions: the older long-tailed pterosaurs and the more recent short-tailed versions. The fossil gap between the two was a mystery until 20 skeletons of a new species were discovered early in 2009 in northeast China. The new pterosaur was named Darwinopterus in honor of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth.
"Darwinopterus came as quite a shock to us," explained David Unwin part of the research team and based at the University of Leicester's School of Museum Studies. "We had always expected a gap-filler with typically intermediate features such as a moderately elongate tail – neither long nor short – but the strange thing about Darwinopterus is that it has a head and neck just like that of advanced pterosaurs, while the rest of the skeleton, including a very long tail, is identical to that of primitive forms".

The discovery lends credence to the theory that evolution is not an even process, but contains periods of rapid evolution. Link -via Digg

(image credit: Mark Witton, University of Portsmouth)

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When I first heard that Darwinopterus probably fed on small, feathered dinosaurs, it made me wonder if the selection pressure on them led to their ultimate development of flight as an escape strategy? These interactions are what drives evolution! This is probable fodder for a Doctoral thesis.
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Plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs are not in any sense archosaurs or dinosaurs.

Although you are right in pointing out that birds are dinosaurs, and dinosaurs are therefore not extinct, this in no way means pterosaurs are dinosaurs.
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Wayne, if one insists on such taxonomic precision, then one has to refer to birds as dinosaurs ("Using the strict cladistical definition that all descendants of a single common ancestor must be included in a group for that group to be natural, birds would thus be dinosaurs and dinosaurs are, therefore, not extinct.")

Plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and other aquatic contemporaries also fail your definition of dinosaur. Sometimes precision becomes too pedantic for the public.
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