Researchers found the remains of the world’s largest Jurassic pterosaur — an extinct winged reptile informally known as a pterodactyl — at the Scottish Isle of Skye.
The researchers extracted the bones wedged into a layer of limestone on a coastal headland and named the species Dearc sgiathanach (pronounced jark ski-an-ach), which translates to “winged reptile” in Gaelic.
PhD student Amelia Penny first spotted a fossilized jaw from a rock on the island during a field expedition in 2017.
The near-complete fossil showed that the creature had a wingspan of about 2.5 meters (8 feet), which is roughly the equivalent to a modern-day albatross.
The creature was also a species new to science, PhD student Natalia Jagielska, who led the study, said.
The research, authored by scientists from the University of Edinburgh, National Museums Scotland, the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, the University of St Andrews and Staffin Museum, has been published in the journal Current Biology on Feb. 22.
Dr. Nick Fraser of National Museums Scotland described the find as “remarkable.”
“To find and describe a specimen which is both so well-preserved and so significant is really special and we’re delighted to add Dearc into our collection, a unique addition to the fossil record and a specimen which will be studied now and long into the future,” Fraser said.
Professor Steve Brusatte, who led the Isle of Sky field trip and is from the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh, called the remains “a superlative Scottish fossil” and “the best British skeleton found since the days of Mary Anning.”
Anning, a fossil hunter, unearthed what she called called her “flying dragon” in 1828.
The fossil has been unveiled at the National Museums Scotland where it will be studied further.
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