University of Bath scientists discover new turkey-sized pterosaur

An artist's impression of the newly discovered pterosaur. Credit: Nick Longrich, University of Bath

Scientists at the University of Bath have discovered a new species of pterosaur, the flying reptiles that roamed the Earth millions of years ago.

The turkey-sized animal was discovered during a dig in Morocco, when scientists unearthed a fossilised piece of beak.

The find was so unusual, it was initially believed to have come from the fin spine of a fish.

But upon closer inspection, paleontologists from the University of Bath and University of Portsmouth realised they had found part of a pterosaur's beak.

The fossilised beak was discovered by scientists at the University of Bath (pictured) and the University of Portsmouth.

Professor David Martill, who co-authored a study on the find, said: “We’ve never seen anything like this little pterosaur before. 

“The bizarre shape of the beak was so unique, at first the fossils weren’t recognised as a pterosaur.”

The pterosaur - which has been officially named Leptostomia begaaensis - was similar in size to a turkey and used its distinctive beak to probe dirt and mud for its prey.

Leptostomia may actually have been a fairly common pterosaur, but it’s so strange - people have probably been finding bits of this beast for years, but we didn’t know what they were until now.

Dr Nick Longrich, from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath

What is a pterosaur?

Pterosaurs are the less well-known cousins of dinosaurs. Over 100 species of these winged reptiles are known, some as large as a fighter jet and others as small as a sparrow.

Read more: