London: Though at the cinema, they swoop through the air and circle ominously overhead with their razor-sharp bills, the flying dinosaurs actually struggled to get off the ground, experts have long maintained.
But, scientists now say that the winged dinosaurs, like the huge pterosaurs, were very much capable of flight -- they used the combined power of their legs and winged arms
as "engines" to push itself off the ground.
Once airborne, the 16ft beast -- with a 32ft wingspan
-- could even cross continents, say the scientists.
For their research, Dr Mark Witton of Portsmouth
University and US colleague Dr Michael Habib used fossils to
estimate size and weight, and calculate bone strength and mechanics, `The Sun` reported.
Dr Habib said: "By using their arms, they use the
flight muscles -- the strongest in their bodies -- to take off
and that gives them potential to launch much greater weight
into the air."
The latest findings, published in the `PLoS One`
journal, contradict an earlier research by Tokyo University
which claimed that the winged dinosaurs would have struggled
to get off the ground because of their weight.
After analysing the flight of 28 birds, the Japanese
team said that the pterodactyl, which weighed a quarter of a
ton, would not have been able to flap its wings fast enough to
stay in the air -- and could only glide relatively short
distances from cliff tops.