Righting a 200 year old mistake: Armita Manafzadeh from Brown University talks with us about how her simulations of pterosaurs’ range-of-motion demonstrate that the ancient reptiles almost certainly couldn’t have flown like most paleontologists have long thought they did. Her open-access article, “ROM mapping of ligamentous constraints on avian hip mobility: implications for extinct ornithodirans” was published on May 23, 2018 with Kevin Padian in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B – Biological Science.



Websites and other resources


Press Coverage

UPIphys.org | Science Daily | Europa Press (Spanish) | Naked Science (Russian) | Eureka AlertGizmodo | Atlas Obscura | Brown University | Futurity


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Hosts / Producers

Doug Leigh & Ryan Watkins

How to Cite

Leigh, D., Watkins, R., & Manafzadeh, A.. (2018, July 24). Parsing Science – Debunking Pterosaurs Flight. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.6855110


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


Armita Manafzadeh: If what we thought to be the case was true, that would be going against the prevailing opinion for about two centuries.

Doug Leigh: This is Parsing Science. The unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science, as told by the researchers themselves. I’m Doug Leigh.

Ryan Watkins: And I’m Ryan Watkins. Speaking with Neil deGrasse Tyson on a recent episode of StarTalk, the famous anthropologist Jane Goodall pointed out that – unlike the bones studied by her paleontologist mentor, Louis Leakey – “behavior doesn’t fossilize.” Unfortunately for paleontologists, connective tissue rarely does either, which is a pity, since it could tell us a lot about how prehistoric animals behaved.

Today we’re joined by Armita Manafzadeh from Brown University. she’ll discuss how her research into modern birds joints suggests that pterosaurs almost certainly couldn’t have flown with their legs splayed out wide apart behind them as they’re typically portrayed both in popular media as well as in scientific literature.

Anita Manafzadeh: Hi my name is Armita Manafzadeh, and I am a PhD student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University. I did my undergraduate degree at the University of California Berkeley working with Kevin Padian who got me interested in paleontology. So, I’m coming to science from a paleontological background interested in the evolution of animals and also on how they move. Now, I’m coming to this department at Brown with a focus on morphology really trying to better understand the joints of animals and how those joints function at a biomechanical level. My ultimate goal is to be able to bring that paleontological and evolutionary perspective to this very mechanical problem and bring the two together to learn more about how animals moved and how that’s evolved over time.

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