The winged reptiles known as pterosaurs, the airplane-sized creatures that flew through the skies while dinosaurs walked the Earth, were the first vertebrates to evolve powered flight. Exactly one fossil of the extinct reptile millions of years ago was discovered on the west coast of Scotland.
A spectacular three-dimensional fossil of a previously unknown pterosaur has been discovered on the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland. Winged reptiles were airplane-sized creatures that flew through the skies while dinosaurs walked the Earth and the first vertebrate animals to evolve powered flight.
With a wingspan of more than 2.5 meters, this is the largest pterosaur ever discovered from the Jurassic period and last flapped its wings 170 million years ago. His sharp teeth, which would have torn apart the fish, still retain their bright enamel.
In the Cretaceous period, just before the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, pterosaurs like Quetzalcoatlus reached the size of fighter jets, with a wingspan of 12 meters.
“Pterosaurs preserved in such quality are extremely rare and are usually reserved for select rock formations in Brazil and China. And yet, a large, beautifully preserved pterosaur emerged from a tidal platform in Scotland,” said Natalia Jagielska, a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh.
The fossil was discovered during a field trip in 2017, in an area of Skye known in Gaelic as Brothers’ Point. A number of surprising discoveries have been made in the area in recent years, including the tracks of other dinosaurs. Paleontologists believe it was once a subtropical lagoon and home to a thriving dinosaur community.