Winged reptiles are known as pterosaurs — airplane-size creatures that swooped through the skies as dinosaurs walked the Earth — were the first vertebrate animals to evolve powered flight. A spectacular three-dimensional fossil of one previously unknown pterosaur has been Discovered on the shore of the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland.
With a wingspan of more than 8.2 feet, it’s the giant pterosaur ever Discovered from the Jurassic period and last flapped its wings 170 million years ago. Its sharp teeth, which would have snapped up fish, still retain their shiny enamel. In the Cretaceous period, immediately before the asteroid strike that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, pterosaurs like Quetzalcoatlus reached the size of fighter jets, with a 40-foot wingspan.
The fossil was Discovered during a field trip in 2017, after a University of Edinburgh doctoral student, Amelia Penny, spotted its jaw protruding from the rock at an area of Skye known in Gaelic as Rubha Nam Brathairean, or Brothers’ Point. The pterosaur has been given the Gaelic name Dearc sgiathanach, which translates to “winged reptile.”
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