Archaeologists in Utah were in for a surprise when they discovered the remains of a new pterosaur species dating back more than 200 million years.
The species, dubbed ‘Caelestiventus hanseni’ (heavenly wind) was discovered by researchers from Brigham Young University.
Until the discovery, there were only 30 known Triassic pterosaur specimens known to man – but the new species predates these by 65 million years.
Brooks Britt, who led the study, said: “We’re getting insights into the beginning of pterosaus. Ours shows that they’re extraordinarily diverse.”
The team made the discovery at the Saints and Sinners Quarry in northeastern Utah.
Alongside the pterosaur bones, the researchers also found the skeletons of five early crocodiles.
Amazingly, the pterosaur bones were uncrushed and preserved in the sand – something which is very rare.
Mr Britt said: “Most Triassic specimens consist of just a single bone: for example, a little phalanx from a finger or one vertebra from the neck.
“For this animal, we have the sides of the face and the complete roof of the skull, including the brain case, complete lower jaws and part of the wing.”
An analysis of the bones revealed that the pterosaur had around 112 fang-like teeth, as well as well-developed vision.
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