Fossil of flying reptiles that once ruled the skies has been found bigger than ever

“It was almost midnight when we finished removing it, and we were lifting about 400 pounds off shore with our headlights and headlights,” Brusatte said. “It was really the most stressful for me as far as a discovery in the field.”

The nearly complete fossil found about 70 percent of the skeleton trapped in the rock, Brusatte said, the best pterosaur ever found in Scotland. It is also the largest of its kind ever discovered from Jurassic العصرAccording to scientists who provided details of the discovery in a study published Tuesday in the journal Current Biology.

The researchers called the species Dear sgiathanach (pronounced yark ski-an-ach) means “pterodactyl reptile” in Gaelic. Flying reptiles lived nearly 170 million years ago and ruled the skies with a wingspan of more than 8 feet, roughly equivalent to a modern albatross.

The researchers used a CT scan of the pterosaur’s skull, pictured here, to study the shape of its brain.Gregory F Funstone

Brusatte and his colleagues took samples of thin slices of bone for forensic analysis of the skeletal system. They found that the animal was not yet an adult pterosaur and was still growing when it died. The researchers also used computed tomography to study the skull and ears of the Scottish specimen.

“We can see from the scans what the brain of this animal was like, which is crazy when you think it’s 170 million years old,” Brusatte said.

An artist’s illustration of a pterosaur on the Isle of Skye.Natalia Jagelska

pterosaurs were The first vertebrates to evolve powered flight, using its extended wings to flap and generate lift to propel it through the air. These creatures lived during the age of the dinosaurs, from 230 million years ago in the Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous period, about 66 million years ago, when a sudden mass extinction event wiped out nearly three-quarters of all plants and animals in the universe.

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Specimens of pterosaurs have been found around the world, Including in BrazilChina and the Italian Alps, but these fossils are extremely rare. It’s rare to find pterosaur bones that have survived, said Natalia Jagelska, Ph.D. Student at the University of Edinburgh and lead author of the study.

“To achieve flight, pterosaurs had hollow bones with thin bony walls, making their remains incredibly fragile and unfit for preservation for millions of years,” she said in a statement.

A near-complete sample of pterosaurs dating back 170 million years will help paleontologists fill in parts of the limited fossil record, and provide a better understanding of how some of these winged creatures grew to become the size of fighter planes.

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