Register for our Voices Dispatches email to receive a comprehensive summary of the top opinions from the week.
Join our Voices newsletter for free every week.
A recently found dinosaur with wings was identified on an island in Scotland.
A new type of pterosaur, called Ceoptera evansae, was recently identified by scientists on the Isle of Skye.
The flying dinosaur existed during the Middle Jurassic epoch, approximately 168 to 166 million years ago.
The recently discovered creature is classified as a member of the Darwinoptera group, a type of pterosaur that has been documented through numerous fossils found in China.
In 2006, scientists studying fossils found them in Elgol on the island’s south-west coast during a field trip.
Over time, the team has dedicated years to physically readying the sample and capturing images of the bones, with some still fully encased in rock.
Although the skeleton is not fully intact, as only fragments of the shoulders, wings, legs, and backbone are present, the researchers stated that it offers valuable information on the evolution and variety of pterosaurs.
Findings, published in the Journal Of Vertebrate Paleontology, suggest Darwinoptera may have been considerably more diverse than previously thought, persisting for more than 25 million years.
Professor Paul Barrett, merit researcher at the Natural History Museum, said: “Ceoptera helps to narrow down the timing of several major events in the evolution of flying reptiles.
The fact that it appeared in the UK during the Middle Jurassic period was unexpected, as most of its similar species are typically found in China.
This discovery indicates that the group of advanced flying reptiles, to which it belongs, emerged earlier than previously believed and rapidly spread across almost the entire globe.
The origin of the name of Ceoptera evansae is a combination of the Scottish Gaelic term “cheo” which translates to mist or fog, and the Latin word “ptera” which means wing.
The next section, evansae, recognizes the contributions of Professor Susan E Evans, a British palaeontologist who has dedicated years to scientific research, specifically on the Isle of Skye.
Since the Elgol coastal site is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the group headed by Professor Barrett was only able to gather samples from rocks that had naturally fallen onto the shoreline.
However, during their examination of these fossils by crawling over boulders, the researchers observed certain bones protruding, which have since been identified as those of a new pterosaur.
Dr. Liz Martin-Silverstone, a palaeobiologist from the University of Bristol and lead author, stated that the time period in which Ceoptera existed is crucial in the evolution of pterosaurs. This period also has a limited number of specimens, highlighting its significance.
“Discovering additional bones within the rock, including some that helped identify the species of pterosaur as Ceoptera, greatly enhanced the significance of this find.”
This brings us closer to comprehending the time and place of evolution for the more advanced pterosaurs.
According to the scientists, it is difficult to study the evolution of pterosaurs due to the scarcity and incompleteness of their fossils from the Middle Jurassic era.