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New size limit set for flying dinosaurs

New size limit set for flying dinosaurs
This is an image of a giant pterosaur, Coloborhynchus. Credit: Image courtesy of Mark Witton, University of Portsmouth: ww.markwitton.com

LONDON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- British paleontologists say they've identified a fossil fragment as part of a giant pterosaur, setting a new upper limit for the size of such creatures.

Researchers from the Universities of Leicester examined the fossil, the tip of a pterosaur snout that had been in the Natural History Museum collections since 1884, and identified it as having been part of the world's largest toothed pterosaur.

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Pterosaurs are flying reptiles that lived in the Mesozoic Era alongside dinosaurs between 210 million and 65 million years ago.

"Our study showed that the fossil represented a huge individual with a wingspan that might have reached 7 meters (23 feet,)" David Unwin of Leicester said in a university release Thursday. "This is far larger than, for example, any modern bird, although some extinct birds may have reached 6 meters (20 feet) in wingspan.

"What this research shows is that some toothed pterosaurs reached truly spectacular sizes and, for now, it allows us to put a likely upper limit on that size – around 7 meters in wingspan," Unwin said.

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