Tiny fossil part reveals biggest-ever toothed pterosaur

October 16th, 2011 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 16 (IANS) Paleontologists have identified a small fossil fragment as being part of the biggest-ever toothed pterosaur, a winged dinosaur.

David Martill and David Unwin from the Universities of Portsmouth and Leicester, respectively, examined the fossil — the tip of a pterosaur snout that had been in the Natural History Museum (London) collections since 1884.

Pterosaurs were flying reptiles, famously seen in the Steven Spielberg movie “Jurassic Park” that lived in the Mesozoic Era alongside dinosaurs between 210 and 65 million years ago, the journal Cretaceous Research reports.

Unwin said: “Our study showed that the fossil represented a huge individual with a wingspan that might have reached seven metres (nearly 23 feet), according to a joint Portsmouth and Liecester statement.

“This is far larger than, for example, any modern bird, although some extinct birds may have reached six metres (nearly 20 feet) in wingspan.

“What this research shows is that some toothed pterosaurs reached truly spectacular sizes and, for now, it allows us to put a likely upper limit on that size — around seven metres in wingspan,” added Unwin.

Martill added: “It’s an ugly looking specimen, but with a bit of skill you can work out just exactly what it was. All we have is the tip of the upper jaws — bones called the premaxillae, and a broken tooth preserved in one socket.”

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