Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Tiny flying dinosaur found
"Scientists believe they have found evidence of a tiny pterodactyl in China.
The toothless flying reptile has been studied at Brazil's national museum, where it was found to have a wing span of just 250 millimetres (9.8 inches) and unexpectedly-curved toes.
Most pterodactyl fossils are found in coastal areas but this specimen was discovered in the western part of China's Liaoning province, which would have been covered in forest 120 million years ago.
As a result, scientists have called the reptile "Nemicolopterus crypticus," which means 'hidden flying forest dweller',
Palaeontologist Alexander Kellner said: "The fundamental importance of this discovery is that it opens up a new chapter in the history of evolution of these flying reptiles.
"So far, we never knew that these animals were adapted to live in the canopies of the trees, which is the case of the Nemicolopterus."
The tiny fossilised reptile has a skull that is not fully fused, so it died before reaching adulthood, but the ends of the bones were developed, so it was not a hatchling either."