New Species of Flying Reptile Named for Fang Teeth
LONDON A new species of flying reptile that died out with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago has been named for its fang-like teeth, British scientists said on Tuesday.
Palaeobiologists at the University of Portsmouth in southern England dubbed the remains of the pterosaur found on a beach on the Isle of Wight three years ago Caulkicephalus trimicrodon.
Caulkhead is the informal name for natives of the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England, and trimicrodon means three small teeth.
"It has massive fang-like front teeth, behind which are three small teeth. Behind those are bigger teeth and then rows of smaller teeth," said Dr David Martill, who described the specimen in the journal Cretaceous Research.
"It was a fish-eater, with a crest on the tip of its snout and a wing span of 5 meters (yards) which would have made it one of the largest flying animals of its time," he added in a statement.
Pterosaurs, or winged lizards, evolved the ability to fly. They lived from about 228 million to 65 million years ago.
Their size ranged from those of a small bird to a creature with a wing-span of up to 18 metres or 60 feet. They had hollow bones, thin bodies, large brains, crests and long beaks.
Flight in pterosaurs evolved separately from birds. Scientists had thought that the creatures used to glide on the wind, but research has shown that large species could fly. Some species had a hair-like covering on their body.
Martill said the flying reptile evolved many different forms and that at least two groups became toothless.