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Dragon-like flying reptiles that soared over the heads of the dinosaurs were just taking off when a giant meteor impact wiped them out, fossil discoveries suggest.
Pterosaurs, better known as the iconic pterodactyl, died out along with their Earth-bound cousins around 66 million years ago, researchers now believe.
Remains - Species - Pterodactyl - Wingspan - Fighter
Among the remains uncovered was a new species of pterodactyl with a wingspan similar to an F-16 fighter, which was killed off in its prime.
It was previously thought that by the time the dinosaurs vanished pterosaurs were already well in decline.
Team - Experts - Universities - Bath - Portsmouth
A team of experts from the universities of Bath, Portsmouth and Texas examined six new fossils unearthed from phosphate mines in northern Morocco.
Far from spiralling slowly into extinction, they paint a very different picture of what happened to the beasts.
Creatures - Asteroid - Miles - Km - Earth
The creatures were flourishing when an asteroid or comet six to nine miles (ten to 15 km) wide smashed in to the Earth off the coast of Mexico, the team says.
Both the pterosaurs and nearly all the dinosaurs were killed off in the mass extinction that followed the cataclysm.
Dinosaurs - Birds
The only dinosaurs to survive were those that morphed into modern birds.
Dr Brian Andres from the University of Texas, a member of the team studying the finds, said: 'The Moroccan fossils tell the last chapter of the pterosaurs' story - and they tell us pterosaurs dominated the skies over the land and sea, as they had for the previous 150 million years.'
Species - Pterosaurs - Wingspan - Metres - Feet
The newly discovered species of pterosaurs ranged in wingspan from a little over two metres (six feet) to almost 10 metres (30 feet) and weighed up to 200 kg (440 pounds).
The largest was almost three times bigger than the largest living bird, the wandering albatross, and a Nato F-16 would be just 1.5 metres (five feet) wider.
The biggest, named, Arambourgiania, would have had a...
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