The curious collection of a slightly mad scientist
A new type of giant flying reptile with a wingspan of six metres and which lived in the Sahara 95 million years ago has been discovered, scientists said today.
The pterosaur, which had a lance-shaped lower jaw making it look like a huge heron, was found by a team of scientists from University College Dublin, the University of Portsmouth and Universite Hassan II in Casablanca.
According to the findings published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE yesterday, the scientists believe the newly identified pterosaur to be the earliest example of its kind.
The new species of pterosaur was unearthed in three separate well-preserved pieces and, unlike most other pterosaur fossils, retains its original three dimensional shape.
Dr David Martill, a reader in palaeobiology at the University of Portsmouth’s School of Earth and Environmental Studies, said: ‘This is the first of this type of pterosaur to be recorded in Africa, and is related to the Texan giant pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus, the largest animal ever to fly.’
Expedition leader Nizar Ibrahim, an expert on north African dinosaurs from University College Dublin, said: ‘This pterosaur is distinguished from all others by its lance-shaped lower jaw which had no teeth and looked rather like the beak of a gigantic heron.