Scientists find fossilized remains of superpterosaur with 20-foot wingspan!

on . Posted in Articles of Interest

This could have been one of the biggest species ever to take to the skies.

ISLE OF WIGHT (PNN) - September 22, 2019 - With a 20-foot wingspan and weighing a colossal 650lbs, the giant pterosaur cast an imposing figure swooping through the skies of the Jurassic Age.

125 million years later, the beast's massive size continues to marvel scientists who have discovered the remains of one of the beasts wedged deep into the cliffs of the Isle of Wight.

The Hatzegopteryx fossil has shed new light on this magnificent species that some believe was the biggest flying creature of the period.

These winged monsters are believed to have ruled the skies for roughly 150 million years, during which time they evolved from rodent-sized to a figure akin to a modern day fighter jet.

The find was made by British Fossils chief Robert Coram, who said, “It might have been the largest flying creature that had ever lived up to that time.”

The Isle of Wight is rich with fossils and is flocked to by dinosaur enthusiasts who comb the south side for remains.

Coram added, “We think this is one of the first superpterosaurs. The Isle of Wight is incredibly heavily prospected by people almost on a daily basis, so it's a matter of being able to spot the little things that they can't.”

Equipped with an extended jaw, the giant pterosaur - which hunted dinosaurs - would snap up and kill its prey.

In a paper co-authored with Professor David Martill of Portsmouth University, he wrote, “A morphometric analysis suggests an original wing span of approximately 5.6m. With an early Barremian age, this pterosaur would have been a giant for its time.”

Pterosaurs - sometimes known as pterodactyls - co-existed at the same time as, but were not classed as, dinosaurs.

Because of their mammoth size, paleobiologists have long wondered how the creatures managed to take off, as their mass would suggest generating enough momentum would be impossible.

But 3D modeling has now revealed that bulging leg muscles and flexible wing structure allowed the giant pterosaur to vault itself into the air.

Michael Habib from the University of Southern California wrote, “Unlike birds, which walk and jump into the air using only their hind limbs, pterosaurs walked on all fours. Mathematical modeling indicates that launching from a quadrupedal stance - pushing off first with the hind limbs and then with the forelimbs - would have provided the leaping power giant pterosaurs required for takeoff.”

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