Author: By Ben Mitchell, PA
A researcher at the University of Portsmouth has identified the new species,
the largest of its kind, which would have flown in the skies above Brazil
115 million years ago.
Mark Witton was able to estimate from a partial skull fossil that the
pterosaur would have had a wingspan of five metres (16.4ft) and would have
been more than one metre (39 inches) tall at the shoulder.
Mr Witton said: “Some of the previous examples we have from this family in
China are just 60 centimetres (2ft) long – as big as the skull of the new
“Put simply, it dwarfs any chaoyangopterid we’ve seen before by miles.”
Mr Witton has christened the new species Lacusovagus, meaning lake wanderer,
after the large body of water in which the remains were buried.
He was asked to examine the specimen, which had lain in a German museum for
several years after its discovery in the Crato formation of the Araripe
Basin in north east Brazil, an area well known for its fossils and their
excellent state of preservation.
He said this fossil was preserved in an unusual way, making its interpretation
He explained: “Usually fossils like this are found lying on their sides but
this one was lying on the roof of its mouth and had been rather squashed,
which made even figuring out whether it had teeth difficult.
“Still, it’s clear to see that lacusovagus had an unusually wide skull which
has implications for its feeding habits – maybe it liked particularly large
“The remains are very fragmentary, however, so we need more specimens before
we can draw any conclusions.”
He added: “The discovery of something like this in Brazil – so far away from
its closest relatives in China – demonstrates how little we actually know
about the distribution and evolutionary history of this fascinating group of
Mr Witton’s findings were published in the journal Palaeontology in November.
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