Sat, March 24, 2012
Technology > Science

Pterosaur fossil unearthed in China

2012-03-24 09:48:00 GMT2012-03-24 17:48:00(Beijing Time)  China Daily

Pterosaurs in ancient times in this restoration photo, March 23, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]

The specimen of a pterosaur skull fossile, file photo. [Photo/Xinhua]

A rare pterosaur skull fossil has been discovered in Northeast China, according to a Friday press release from the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS).

A photo of the fossil specimen attached to the release shows that the creature had an upward-pointing frontal crest and large rostral teeth, indicating that it is closely related to Ludodactylus, another rare lizard hailing from the Araripe Basin in northeast Brazil, according to Dr Wang Xiaolin, a scientist leading a joint Chinese-Brazilian research team that discovered the fossil.

The team also discovered several coprolites containing fish bone fragments next to the skull, indicating that the creature mainly ate fish, the release said.

The reptile has been named Guidraco venator, a combination of Chinese and Latin that means "ghost hunter."

The specimen was unearthed from the Early Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation in Northeast China's Liaoning province, a region famous for the pterosaur fossils uncovered there.

One possible explanation for the creature's resemblance to the Brazilian Ludodactylus states that several early Cretaceous pterosaur species may have originated in Asia and later migrated to other regions, such as Brazil.

"The occurrence of Guidraco is consistent with that hypothesis," said the study's coauthor Alexander Kellner from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

Dr Wang said the pterosaurs may have been forced to leave the Jiufotang Formation due to rising competition with birds, which also prey on fish.

A report on the discovery will be published in the April issue of Naturwissenschaften, a leading academic journal for the natural sciences.

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