Toothless, giant flying reptile species found in Sahara

May 29th, 2010 - 5:10 pm ICT by ANI  

National Geographic Washington, May 29 (ANI): Scientists have uncovered the fossil of a new species of a giant flying reptile in the Sahara desert.

However, it seems the 95-million-year-old pterosaur was not too fond of flying as it spent its time looking for prey in the once lush Sahara.

The Alanqa saharicafrom, discovered two years ago in southeast Morocco, belonged to a pterosaur family that flourished nearly 70 million years ago.

According to study leader Nizar Ibrahim of Ireland’s University College Dublin, the jaw and neck bones of the newfound fossil make it the oldest known ancestor of the azhdarchids, a type of large pterosaur.

A. saharicafrom from had a toothless, beak-like jaw, a long, slender neck, and an estimated wingspan of 19.5 feet.

“That tells us that even these very early azhdarchids were already pretty big and had the same kind of body proportions [as later giant species],” National Geographic News quoted Ibrahim, as saying.

Recent research also suggests that azhdarchids such as A. saharicafrom didn’t fly that much.

A. saharicafrom could well have hunted “lizards and little dinosaurs with their long, slender jaws…a bit like a stork or a heron,” said Ibrahim.

The findings have appeared May 26 in the journal PLoS ONE. (ANI)

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