Microscopic examination of the fossil from China showed that the fur, the body covering pterosaurs, flying reptiles other than that lived with the dinosaurs, was actually made up of rudimentary feathers.
The unexpected discovery is described by scientists on Monday means dinosaurs and their descendants the birds were not the only creatures boast feathers and feathers, perhaps with & # 39 appeared much more back than previously thought.
Pterosaurs were only distantly related to dinosaurs and birds.
Birds need feathers to fly. It was not so with the pterosaurs. Short, like feathers hair covered their bodies and wings, but lacked a strong central shaft of bird feathers flying, the researchers say.
They may have provided insulation and other advantages, as does the hair for mammals.
"They do not have primaries," said paleontologist Baoyu Jiang Nanjing University, who led the study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution magazine.
"They looked fuzzy, and they do not have complex feathers."
The researchers studied the perfectly preserved fossils of the Jurassic period, about 160-165 million years of two small pterosaurs called anurognathids from northeastern China.
Apparently forest dwellers and insect eaters, they had 45cm, wingspan short tails and frogs seemingly as a person.
Pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to master flight, and then much later, birds and bats.
Scientists have known since the 19th century, that pterosaurs had fur like cover body and there was a long-running debate about how to classify.
Many of the fibers under the microscope showed branching as feathers, but not the hair.
University of Bristol paleontologist and study co-author Mike Benton said observed four types of pterosaurs feathers down feathers, single strands, yarns and threads with tufts at the end.
Tiny pigment-related structures have shown these feathers ginger-brown color.
Pterosaurs and dinosaurs from the & # 39 appeared about 230 million years ago in the Triassic period.
According to the researchers, with the & # 39; appearance of feathers in both groups suggested that feathers first evolved perhaps 250 million years ago in the common ancestor of dinosaurs and pterosaurs.
Pterosaurs the largest of which had a wingspan of 10.7 million became extinct along with the dinosaurs after an asteroid impact 66 million years ago.