Scientists in Scotland say they’ve found the remains of the world’s largest Jurassic pterosaur.
Fossil hunters couldn’t believe their eyes when they spotted a jawbone jutting out from the seashore on Scotland’s Isle of Skye. “We had to battle the tides to collect it. We almost lost the fossil,” American paleontologist Steve Brusatte said. Brusatte and his team from University of Edinburgh managed to get their hands on the largest pterosaur ever discovered from the Jurassic period. “It’s an exquisite skeleton. The bones are preserved in three dimensions. It’s one hundred and seventy million years old, give or take, and it’s big,” Brusatte said.
With a wingspan of eight feet, it’s the real-life version of Hollywood’s flying reptiles. “It’s a new species,” Brusatte says. “We call it Dearc sgiathanach. That’s a Scottish Gaelic name and that pays homage to where it was found here in Scotland on the Isle of Skye.”
The fossil is 70% complete. So intact that scientists built a digital model of its brain, revealing the creature had great eyesight. Researchers say the teenage pterosaur had an arsenal of sharp teeth, weighed about 20 pounds, and was still growing. “So already, way back in the Jurassic period, these pterosaurs were getting much larger than we used to think,” Brusatte says.
Scientists call it the “discovery of a century” that pieces together a huge gap in fossil records. The fossil has now been to the collection at the National Museum of Scotland, allowing it to be studied for many years to come.
Correspondent: Tina Kraus
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