Friday, April 30, 2010

New Species of Ancient Flying Reptile Discovered

If you've read any of the past posts in this blog you know I am a huge fan of news about the discovery of a new species. I've talked about a few, exciting new discoveries, recently. However, this new species discovery is quite different from those I've talked about previously.

This new discovery isn't an animal you'll be able to travel to some remote location of the globe to try and catch a glimpse of or one that you'll be reading about conservation efforts to protect. This new discovery is about a species of flying reptile that lived almost 95 million years ago according to scientists.

The flying reptile, or pterosaur, had a wingspan of 9 feet and flew over what is currently the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Northern Texas in the United States. A fossilized jaw was discovered embedded in soft, powdery shale during an excavation of a hillside next to a highway in the area in 2006.

New analysis of the jaw suggests it belongs to a never-before-known genus of pterosaur named Aetodactylus halli. It was named after the individual who discovered it, Lance Hall, a hobbyist fossil hunter and member of the Dallas Paleontological Society. The animal was identified and named by Timothy S. Myers of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

The jaw measures about 15 inches (38 centimeters) long and originally contained 54 slender, pointed teeth. Only two teeth were still intact at the time of discovery. The discovery of a pterosaur with teeth was surprising to scientists as all North American pterosaurs were toothless with the exception of the Coloborhynchus.

While the Aetodactylus halli isn't something we'll ever get to actually see in the wild I still think this is a pretty fascinating and remarkable discovery.

For more information about this discovery and to see a photo of the jaw discovered by Lance Hall refer to this article.

No comments:

Post a Comment