Experts at the University of Portsmouth have discovered amazing fossils during field research in Morocco – the remains of a new species of small pterosaurs. They are the size of a turkey and are unlike any other pterosaur seen before. The details were revealed thanks to the found long thin toothless beak. Fossil research is published by Cretaceous Research.
The fossilized piece of beak was an amazing find. It was originally thought to be part of a fish fin, but a team of paleontologists from the Universities of Portsmouth and Bath have discovered an unusual bone structure that is only seen in pterosaurs. Then the scientists realized that it was a piece of the beak.
We’ve never seen anything like this little pterosaur before. The bizarre shape of the beak was so unique that at first the fossil was not recognized as a pterosaur.
Professor David Martill of the University of Portsmouth, study co-author
A careful search of the Late Cretaceous Kem-Kem strata in Morocco, where this particular bone was found, revealed additional animal fossils, leading scientists to conclude that they had discovered a new species with a long, skinny beak like the kiwi.
The new species, named Leptostomia begaaensis, used its beak to explore dirt and soil in search of hidden prey. Thus, they hunted like modern waders or kiwis to find worms, crustaceans, and perhaps even small hard-shelled molluscs.
Pterosaurs are lesser-known relatives of dinosaurs. There are over 100 known species of these winged reptiles, some the size of a fighter and others no larger than a sparrow.
“Some species hunted for food on their wings, while others stalked their prey on the ground. Now, fragments of this wonderful little pterosaur show a lifestyle previously unknown to pterosaurs, ”concludes Professor Martil.