A Moment of Science

Prehistoric Runways

What are prehistoric runways and why are they so important?

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Photo: forbescreative (flickr)

Who used runways before airplanes?

Have you ever wondered when the first runways were built?  You may guess around the time of the Wright brothers.  However, there is new evidence that there were runways prior to that that.

You may not think that anything besides an airplane would use a runway however airplanes are not the only flying things.  There are birds and other airborne creatures.

Prehistoric Runways

Most don’t use a runway, but some might.  Or at least might have.  Scientists recently found evidence that a prehistoric flying dinosaur called a pterosaur used runways to land and maybe for taking off, too.

The telltale signs are tracks in limestone deposits in France.  The way the pterosaur’s prints are arranged suggest that as it landed it planted its feet, dragged its toes a bit and then did a sort of hop and came to a stop.

Kind of like a plane coming in for a landing.

They Can Tell All This From Fossils?

That’s the scientists’ best hypothesis, anyhow.  With more evidence, they might be able to tell if pterosaurs used runways to take off, as well as land.

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