New species of giant pterosaur discovered
A new species of pterosaurs which had a wingspan the size of a family car has been uncovered by scientists.
A researcher at the University of Portsmouth has identified the new species, the largest of its kind, which would have flown in the skies above Brazil 115 million years ago.
Mark Witton was able to estimate from a partial skull fossil that the pterosaur would have had a wingspan of five metres (16.4ft) and would have been more than one metre (39 inches) tall at the shoulder.
The fossil is the first example of a chaoyangopteridae, a group of toothless pterosaurs, to be found outside China and is the largest one ever discovered.
Mr Witton said: "Some of the previous examples we have from this family in China are just 60 centimetres (2ft) long - as big as the skull of the new species.
"Put simply, it dwarfs any chaoyangopterid we've seen before by miles."
Mr Witton has christened the new species Lacusovagus, meaning lake wanderer, after the large body of water in which the remains were buried.
He was asked to examine the specimen, which had lain in a German museum for several years after its discovery in the Crato formation of the Araripe Basin in north east Brazil, an area well known for its fossils and their excellent state of preservation.
He said this fossil was preserved in an unusual way, making its interpretation difficult.
He explained: "Usually fossils like this are found lying on their sides but this one was lying on the roof of its mouth and had been rather squashed, which made even figuring out whether it had teeth difficult.
"Still, it's clear to see that lacusovagus had an unusually wide skull which has implications for its feeding habits - maybe it liked particularly large prey.
"The remains are very fragmentary, however, so we need more specimens before we can draw any conclusions."
He added: "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."
Mr Witton's findings were published in the journal Palaeontology in November.
Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Any terrorist seizure of the plane ‘would have required one hell of a piece of planning’
Croatia's second city to close 'worst zoo in the world' after reports of 'nightmare' conditions and 'depressed' animals
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Hijackers, pirates or suicide – the theories surrounding the mystery
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Q&A by Simon Calder: How far could it have travelled? Who was responsible and what would their plans be? And how can a plane just vanish?
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Exclusive: World’s most pristine waters are polluted by US Navy human waste
- 3 Nemanja Matic interview: My family were in tears when we left Lisbon
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hijacking’ began soon after take-off
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Viral Facebook links are profiting hackers
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...