A SMALL fossil fragment has been identified as being part of the world’s largest toothed pterosaur – a flying reptile that lived alongside dinosaurs – by a University of Portsmouth expert.
Dr David Martill examined the fossil at the Natural History Museum in London with a fellow paleontologist from the University of Leicester which has set a new upper limit for the size of winged and toothed animals.
Their study of the fossil, which consisted of the tip of a pterosaur snout that had been in the museum collections since 1884, showed it belonged to a huge individual with a wingspan that might have reached seven metres.
This is far larger than, for example, any modern bird, although some extinct birds may have reached six metres in wingspan.
Dr Martill said: ‘It’s an ugly looking specimen, but with a bit of skill you can work out just exactly what it was.
‘All we have is the tip of the upper jaws and a broken tooth preserved in one socket.
‘Once you do the calculations you realise that the scrap in your hand is a very exciting discovery.’