Fossil of flying reptile is new species

Feb. 4, 2013 at 3:50 PM
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SOUTHAMPTON, England, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- British paleontologists say they've worked with international colleagues to identify fossil remains as those of a new kind of extinct flying reptile.

University of Southampton researchers have helped identify 68-million-year-old fossilized bones found in Romania as new species, dubbed Eurazhdarcho langendorfensis.

"Eurazhdarcho belong to a group of pterosaurs called the azhdarchids," Southampton paleontologist Darren Nash said. "These were long-necked, long-beaked pterosaurs whose wings were strongly adapted for a soaring lifestyle.

"Several features of their wing and hind limb bones show that they could fold their wings up and walk on all fours when needed."

The discovery is the most complete example of an azhdarchid found in Europe so far, the researchers said.

"With a three-meter [10-foot] wingspan, Eurazhdarcho would have been large, but not gigantic," Nash said. "This is true of many of the animals so far discovered in Romania; they were often unusually small compared to their relatives elsewhere."

The study by Southampton researchers along with colleagues from the Transylvanian Museum Society in Romania, and the Museau Nacional in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, has been published in the journal PLoS One.

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