The pterosaur ‘s sharp-toothed jaw was spotted in an ancient limestone layer off the coast of Skye, Scotland, by PhD student Amelia Penny, and the fossil skeleton was studied in detail.
The research revealed that the flying reptile whose 170-million-year-old fossil was examined had a wingspan of 2.5 meters.
Researchers from the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow and the Staffin Museum in Skye removed the rock in which the fossil was found and took it to Edinburgh University.
The research, led by PhD student Natalia Jagielska, also revealed that the flying reptile is a new species to science, with the species named Dearc Sgiathanach, which means ‘winged reptile’ in Welsh.
Noting that complete pterosaur fossils like this are rare, Jagielska said, “As flying reptiles, their bones are really light, just like birds.”
Professor Steve Brusatte from Edinburgh University said that the size of the pterosaur, which he describes as a ‘unique Scottish fossil‘, shows that it lived before the Cretaceous period, when its species competed with birds.
The results of the research were published in the journal Current Biology.