Mini-pterodactyl discovered in China
February 11, 2008
Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of pterodactyl in northeastern China.
Life reconstructions of Nemicolopterus crypticus, a small derived flying reptile that lived in the gingko forests that existed some 120 million years ago in present China. Top image courtesy of Chuang Zhao, lower reconstruction by Michael Skrepnickaption.
Nemicolopterus crypticus was also toothless, a previously unknown characteristic for a pterosaur.
"This flying reptile is the smallest arboreal pterosaur, the smallest toothless pterosaur, and the smallest Cretaceous pterosaur in the world," lead author Xiaolin Wang told mongabay.com. "When we discribed its morphological features in detail, we realized that this was a miniature species and young individual, but not a hatchling that had just left the egg."
"Nemicolopterus crypticus is a basal dsungaripteroid in a sister-group relationship with the Ornithocheiroidea," Wang continued, "The Ornithocheiroidea includes the [best known] pterosaurs, some reaching gigantic sizes with wingspans of 6 m (Pteranodon) and 10 m (Quetzalcoatlus)... these originated from crestless and toothless small insectivorous arboreal forms."
Xiaolin Wang eat al (2008). Discovery of a rare arboreal forest dwelling flying reptile (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea) from China. PNAS for the week of February 11, 2008.