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Dec 5 / Dave Schumaker

Newly Discovered Species of Flying Pterosaur

While browsing through my Twitter feed earlier this evening, I stumbled across this interesting post about a newly discovered reptile species named Lacusovagus magnificens, from Lower Cretaceous deposits in Brazil.

Source: Mark Witton on Flickr

The newly discovered pterosaur had a wingspan of 16ft and stood more than 3ft tall. I wonder how long someone would last, chained to a bed with this thing? (Interesting side note, I just discovered I am the #1 search result on Google for “Velociraptor Wrestling.” Amazing.)

Mark Witton’s page on Flickr has a great writeup on the discovery:

So, what is this Lacusovagus beastie all about, then? Well, the holotype specimen (that is, the specimen to which the name Lacusovagus magnificens is attached to) was sourced from the Crato Formation of Brazil, the age of which isn’t entirely clear. Based on fossil spores and pollen, the Crato Formation seems to have a ballpark age of about 110 million years old, dumping it towards the top of the Lower Cretaceous. This stretch of time records one of the richest, most diverse pterosaur faunas we know of: between the famous Jehol Group of China (you know, the place that’s blossoming with all those fuzzy dinosaurs you see splashed across the news every-so-often), the Crato Formation, the neighbouring Santana Formation and a few other sites, we know of at least ten major groups of pterosaurs around at this time, and God-knows how many different species. So, Lacusovagus doesn’t exactly rewrite our knowledge of pterosaur temporal distribution, then: in this respect, it simply adds another name to the already-long list of pterosaurs known from this time.

Sounds awesome! It must be a thrill to have been the first to discover something like that.

Update: Thanks to a comment from Callan Bently, I’ve updated any references of dinosaurs to pterosaurs! And thank you Wikipedia for clarifying this for me too.

Pterosaurs are sometimes referred to in the popular media as dinosaurs, but this is incorrect. The term “dinosaur” is properly restricted to a certain group of terrestrial reptiles with a unique upright stance (superorder Dinosauria), and therefore excludes the pterosaurs, as well as the various groups of extinct aquatic reptiles, such as ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mosasaurs.

[Via Science on Twitter]

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