Pterosaur: Extraordinary flying reptile soars above Isle of Skye

Unique Pterosaur Species Discovered on Isle of Skye: Challenges Assumptions about Distribution

In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists have uncovered the fossils of a previously unknown species of pterosaur, a flying reptile, on the Isle of Skye. This ancient creature, named Ceoptera, lived approximately 168-166 million years ago during the Middle Jurassic period.

The find, made on a beach, revealed well-preserved fossils of the pterosaur’s wings, shoulders, legs, and backbone. However, the skull was missing, leaving researchers puzzled about its exact appearance. The Ceoptera is believed to have had a wingspan of around 1m to 1.5m, making it a relatively small pterosaur.

Scientists were particularly surprised by this discovery off the coast of Scotland, as pterosaurs from this period were previously thought to predominantly inhabit China. This remarkable finding challenges previous assumptions about the distribution of these ancient creatures during the Middle Jurassic period.

Following the meticulous excavation of the fossil, it was transported to London’s prestigious Natural History Museum for further study. Researchers used state-of-the-art technology, including a CT scanner, to create a detailed 3D digital model of the fossil. This allowed them to gain a clearer understanding of its morphology and potential flight capabilities.

The Ceoptera’s existence sheds light on a transitional phase in pterosaur evolution, showcasing a link between primitive and advanced forms of these flying reptiles. This discovery provides invaluable insights into the early evolution and diversity of these mesmerizing creatures.

Analyses of the Middle Jurassic period in Scotland indicate that it was characterized by a sub-tropical environment with coastal beaches and lagoons, providing ideal habitats for pterosaurs. This finding adds to previous evidence of pterosaur presence in Scotland, suggesting that they were common in the region during this time.

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The fossil belongs to the Darwinoptera branch of pterosaurs, which thrived for over 25 million years from the Late Early Jurassic to the latest Jurassic period. This fascinating branch makes the Ceoptera an important addition to the understanding of the diversity and evolutionary history of pterosaurs.

Overall, this remarkable discovery highlights the significance of the Isle of Skye as an archaeological treasure trove, revealing stunning insights into our planet’s captivating past. The Ceoptera pterosaur opens up a new chapter in our understanding of these ancient flying reptiles and the ecosystems they once inhabited.

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About the Author: Cary Douglas

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