Newly discovered fossil of flying reptile largest of its kind

December 4, 2008

(ChattahBox) — A new fossil species of flying reptile is the largest of its kind ever to have been discovered. It would have flown in the skies above Brazil 115 million years ago.  A researcher at the University of Portsmouth has identified the new type of pterosaur, that has a wingspan the size of a family car and stood 39in (1m) tall at the shoulders.

The partial skull fossil, found in Brazil, is the first example of a chaoyangopteridae, a group of toothless pterosaurs, to be found outside China.  It dwarfs any chaoyangopterid discovered before. Previous examples of this family in China are just 60cm (2ft) long – as big as the skull of the new species. The researcher Mark Witton who made the find notes: “The discovery of something like this in Brazil – so far away from its closest relatives in China – demonstrates how little we actually know about the distribution and evolutionary history of this fascinating group of creatures.”

The new species named Lacusovagus by Witton, means lake wanderer, after the large body of water in which the remains were buried. Lacusovagus had an unusually wide skull, which has implications for its feeding habits. It may have liked particularly large prey but more specimens need to be found to draw any conclusions. The findings were published in the journal Palaeontology in November.


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