Scientists have identified a new type of pterosaur (giant flying reptile or pterodactyl) that existed about 95 million years ago.
With the help of ancient fossils unearthed in the Sahara desert, the scientists made the discovery.
According to the findings published in the online peer-reviewed scientific journal PLoS ONE on May 26th, the scientists consider the newly identified pterosaur to be the earliest example of its kind.
Unearthed in three separate pieces, the jaw bone has a total length of 344mm (13.5 inches). Each piece is well preserved, uncrushed, and unlike most other pterosaur fossils, retains its original three dimension shape.
"This pterosaur is distinguished from all others by its lance-shaped lower jaw which had no teeth and looked rather like the beak of a heron," says Nizar Ibrahim, a PhD research scholar from University College Dublin, Ireland, who led the expedition. "During the excavation, we also discovered a partial neck vertebra that probably belonged to the same animal, inferring a wing span of about six metres."
The scientists have named the new pterosaur Alanqa saharicafrom the Arabic word 'Al Anqa' meaning Phoenix, a mythological flying creature that dies in a fire and is reborn from the ashes of that fire. (ANI)