Fossil discovery is new flying reptile

Sept. 4, 2012 at 4:38 PM

BAMBERGH, Germany, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- German researchers say a fossil of a new species of pterosaur, the flying reptiles that lived at the same time as the dinosaurs, is 155 million years old.

That makes the exquisitely preserved skeleton, discovered in the Bamberg region of Germany, one of the oldest pterosaurs known, officials at the Bamberg Natural History Museum said.

Paleontologists say the creature was well adapted to wading in water, with exceptionally long arms and legs, and possessed jaws shaped like the beak of a stork or flamingo.

That would have been useful for filtering small organisms from the water, including small fish, the remains of which are persevered in the fossil's stomach.

"It's an extremely rare and wonderful specimen," pterosaur expert Eberhard Frey from the Karlsruhe natural history museum said.

The pterosaur had a wingspan of around 4 feet, Matthias Mauser, director of the Bamberg museum of natural history, told The Local.de.

"It did have wings, but that does not mean it was a bird," Mauser said, noting it did not have feathers but instead was covered in stiff bristles.

The pterosaur went on display at the Bamberg museum Saturday.

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