Science/Tech

UK Discovers Its First Pterosaur Fossil

For the first time ever, researchers from the U.K. discovered the fossil of a pterosaur species in their continent, previously only found in China and Brazil.

Researchers Discover Pterosaur Fossil in The U.K. For The First Time

According to a new update from a university, researchers have managed to unearth the fossil of a pterosaur species in the U.K. for the first time ever. Previously, fossil samples of the prehistoric reptile species were only found in both China and Brazil, marking a first for U.K.

Identified as a tapejarid, which is a flying pterosaur from the Cretaceous Period, researchers from the University of Portsmouth said that the fossil discovery demonstrated a wide global distribution of the species.

Per the research team, the sample (which is a pterodactyl jaw) came from a fossil hunter who recently discovered it while out with his dog in Sandown Bay on the Isle of Wight. He then passed it to University of Portsmouth Paleontology student Megan Jacobs, who identified it’s a pterodactyl jaw bone. However, it wasn’t just any ordinary pterodactyl because it came from a pterosaur group called tapejarids, which are better known in China and Brazil.

A first in the U.K., the specimen has since been named Wightia declivirostris.

“Although only a fragment of jaw, it has all the characteristic of a tapejarid jaw, including numerous tiny little holes that held minute sensory organs for detecting their food, and a downturned, finely pointed beak. Complete examples from Brazil and China show that they had large head crests, with the crest sometime being twice as big as the skull. The crests were probably used in sexual display and may have been brightly colored,” Jacobs said.

According to the team, the Isle of Wight tapejarid seems to be more related to the Chinese species than the Brazilian ones.

“This new species adds to the diversity of dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles found on the Island, which is now one of the most important places for Cretaceous dinosaurs in the world,” Professor David Martill, co-author of the study and a paleontologist from the University of Portsmouth, said.

Dinosaur Skeleton A Camptosaurus (L) and an Allosaurus skeletons are displayed on November 13, 2018 at the Artcurial auction house in Paris. Volcanoes and an asteroid are most likely the reasons for dinosaur extinction. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images

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