Fossil of flying reptile identified

July 10, 2012 at 4:22 PM
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BRISTOL, England, July 11 (UPI) -- A fossil of a juvenile flying reptile in Germany, largely ignored by scientists as just another pterosaur, is in fact an entirely new species, researchers say.

First assumed to just another example of around 120 specimens of the pterosaur genus Rhamphorhynchus found at Germany's famed Solnhofen limestone beds, closer analysis determined it was a different genus, David Hone of the University of Bristol in Britain and his colleagues report in the journal PLoS ONE.

The new species, dubbed Bellubrunnus rothgaengeri or Brunn beauty after the German quarry from where it was excavated, differs in the number of teeth, shape of the humerus and femur bones and its limb proportions, the researchers report.

Unlike all other known late-Jurassic pterosaurs, the wingtips are curved anteriorly, or outward, potentially giving it a unique flight profile with more maneuverability, Hone said.

The juvenile fossil, slightly more than 5 inches long, probably would have had a wingspan of about 3 feet when fully grown, researchers said.

The fossil was found at a newly explored locality older than the classic Solnhofen beds, they said.

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