A resident of Great Britain, John Winch, walked a dog on the shores of Lake Sandown Bay and discovered a fragment of a peculiar fossil jaw. He handed over the find to Megan Jacobs, a student at the Paleontological Department of the University of Portsmouth, who suggested that it could be the jaw of a pterosaur, and turned out to be right, Naked science reports.
Scientists note that these are the first remains of the pterosaur of the tapeyarid family, which were found in Britain. Typically, the remains of these “flying dinosaurs” were found in China, Brazil, Morocco and Argentina. The new species is called Wightia declivirostris.
“Although this is just a fragment of the jaw, it has all the characteristic features, including numerous tiny holes in which the smallest organs for detecting food were located, and a curved, thinly pointed beak. <…> Full skeletons from Brazil and China show that such pterosaurs had large crests on their heads, sometimes twice the size of the skull. These crests were probably used to show off the floor and may have bright colors, “said Jacobs.
Scientists note that the pterosaur found in the UK is closer to its Chinese “relatives” than to the Brazilian ones. “The line of the occlusal margin lies beyond the anterior margin of the infraorbital foramen, indicating similarities with Sinopterus and not with South American tapeyarids such as Tapejara, Tupandactylus and Caiuajara. This specimen is the first tapeyarid in the Wessex formation and one of the oldest discovered outside of China.” – the authors of the work write.