Feb
14
2008

New pterosaur no Rodan

Pterosaurs and their Mesozoic friends: Illustration from an 1880s science book
Pterosaurs and their Mesozoic friends: Illustration from an 1880s science bookCourtesy Mark Ryan
The fossil remains of a new species of pterosaur, a flying reptile that lived during the time of the dinosaurs, have been uncovered in China, but nearby Japan probably has no cause for alarm.

Although it’s not believed to be an adult specimen, the prehistoric critter is remarkable in its size and the structure of its feet. Its wingspan measures less than twelve inches, leading scientists to think it may be one of the smallest pterosaurs ever found. The findings appear in this week’s online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pterosaurs weren’t dinosaurs but were closely related to them. They were the first known vertebrates to evolve winged flight and co-existed with dinosaurs during the Mesozoic Era.

Most pterosaur specimens have been found previously along what used to be coastal regions. This new one inhabited the gingko forest that covered the western portion of China's Liaoning province some 120 million years ago.

An important feature seen in the new toothless pterosaur is that some of its toe bones appear to be curved leading its discoverers to believe it was arboreal and spent a lot of time perched in the Early Cretaceous trees. Subsequently, they have named the creature Nemicolopterus crypticus, which means, "hidden flying forest dweller".

"It is interesting to see some clear arboreal adaptations in this species," said Matthew Carrano, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. "It confirms a suspicion we had, that pterosaurs were more diverse in their habitats than we knew from the [fossil] record." Carrano was not part of the research team.

It also means the size range of pterosaurs now extends from this sparrow-sized percher to the gigantic Quetzalcoatlus whose wingspan reached up to 36 feet!

By the way, an impressive Rodan-sized skeleton of Quetzacoatlus can be seen at the Science Museum overhead as you enter the lobby.

LINKS

Fox News story
BBC website story
More about it from the BBC

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

flinch619's picture
flinch619 says:

thats tight. id like to learn more about different variations of ancient species. since i havent really gotten into the topic i only really know the basic types of dinosaurs ive seen on the land before time.

BOOYAKASHA!

posted on Thu, 02/14/2008 - 12:29pm
LEE's picture
LEE says:

That's cool to know that there's another new species of dinosaurs.

posted on Sat, 02/16/2008 - 5:04pm
koallainfestation37's picture
koallainfestation37 says:

dinosaurs are cool
and ones that fly are even cooler

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 9:56am
Looney_Tooney's picture
Looney_Tooney says:

Oh Snapz!
That's pretty tight yo.
So which one of em are in the picture??

posted on Sun, 02/24/2008 - 1:15pm

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