Published: 22:30 BST, 12 June 2019 | Updated: 23:04 BST, 12 June 2019
A breakthrough discovery shows that pterodactyls could fly from birth, something no other species before or since has been able to do.
And British scientists said that the revelation has a 'profound impact' on our understanding of the reptiles.
The common belief was the pterodactyls, like birds and bats, only took to the air once they were fully grown.
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A new study shows pterodactyls could fly from birth, something no other species before or since can do. The findings have a 'profound impact' on our understanding of reptiles
Pterodactyls used both their arms and legs to push themselves off the ground during take-off, in a manoeuvre known as the 'quadrupedal launch'.
They were almost as tall as a giraffe with wing spans of around 32ft (10 metres).
Using a computer model, engineers worked out that creatures with a wing span of 39 ft (12 metres or above) would not be able to take off.
They showed that even the largest pterosaur would have been able to sustain flight by using air currents to glide.
It would also have been able to slow down sufficiently to make a safe landing because its wings were formed from a flexible membrane.
But taking off was all but impossible because large reptiles weighing almost half a tonne would not have had the push-off force required to get the model off the ground.
This was based on studies of fossilized embryos in China which showed they had poorly developed wings.
But the latest research from the Universities of Leicester and Lincoln looked at 19 embryos of four species from Argentina and China that died just before hatching.