New species of flying reptile identified on B.C. coast

Jan 10, 2011

Persistence paid off for a University of Alberta paleontology researcher, who after months of pondering the origins of a fossilized jaw bone, finally identified it as a new species of pterosaur, a flying reptile that lived 70 million years ago.

Victoria Arbour says she was stumped when the small piece of was first pulled out of of a fossil storage cabinet in the U of A's paleontology department.

"It could have been from a dinosaur, a fish or a ," said Arbour. "

Arbour, a PhD student in paleontology, says the first clue to the fossil's identify came after she compared it to known of , "I found a previously published paper describing the teeth of a previously discovered pterosaur and ours was very close," said Arbour.

"The teeth of our fossil were small and set close together," said Arbour. "They reminded me of piranha teeth, designed for pecking away at meat." That led Arbour to believe her new species, named Gwawinapterus beardi was a scavenger of the late Cretaceous. "It had a wing span of about 3 metres and patrolled the sky and set down to feed on the leftover kills made by predator dinosaurs of the time such as Albertosaurus."

The fossil is not only a new species it's the first pterosaur of any kind to be found in British Columbia. It was found on Hornby Island, off the coast of Vancouver Island

However, Arbour says the place where the was located has little to do with the actual area where the living pterosaur, was actually flying around 70 million years ago.

"In the late Cretaceous period, the B.C. coastal islands were about 2,500 kilometres to the south and part of what is now mainland, California," said Arbour.

Arbour's research was published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

Explore further: Study sheds new light on the diet of extinct animals

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Students' sharp eyes restore dinosaur's rightful name

Dec 28, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Three graduate students in paleontology blew dust off dinosaur toes found in 1924 to discover that something didn't quite add up. After examining a few more fossilized bones, they concluded ...

A misplaced dinosaur tooth may have been cannibalism

Oct 05, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- You don't have to be a paleontologist to suppose that way back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth chances were good meat eaters would dined on one of their own. Short of a time-machine trip back ...

Recommended for you

Study sheds new light on the diet of extinct animals

7 hours ago

A study of tooth enamel in mammals living today in the equatorial forest of Gabon could ultimately shed light on the diet of long extinct animals, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Ancient clay seals may shed light on biblical era

Dec 20, 2014

Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., says Mississippi State University archaeologist ...

Digging up the 'Spanish Vikings'

Dec 19, 2014

The fearsome reputation of the Vikings has made them the subject of countless exhibitions, books and films - however, surprisingly little is known about their more southerly exploits in Spain.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.