2011 Archives

When Giant Reptiles Flew Over Texas


The following is from the July 29, 2011, edition of the Reptile Channel and concerns research by SMU paleontologist Timothy S. Myers.

August 2, 2011

pteranodonFossilized bones from a gigantic flying reptile recently discovered in Texas may be the earliest record yet of the prehistoric creature known as Pteranodon. Previously, similar remains have been unearthed in Kansas, South Dakota and Wyoming, but this likely Pteranodon specimen is the first of its kind found in Texas, according to paleontologist Timothy S. Myers, who is based at Dallas's Southern Methodist University. The specimen was discovered north of the city by an amateur fossil hunter who found various bones belonging to the left wing.

Pteranodon was a type of pterosaur first being seen in the fossil record about 100 million years ago. As the only reptiles to dominate the ancient skies, pterosaurs had broad leathery wings and slim torsos. The specimen identified by Myers is an adult pterosaur, which had a wingspan of 12-13 feet. It was discovered in the Austin Group, a prominent rock unit in Texas that was deposited around 89 million years ago, early in the geological time period known as the Late Cretaceous. . .

"Any pterosaur material is fairly rare to find unless you have exceptional preservation conditions, because of the fragile bones of these reptiles. They needed to be buried rapidly in order to be well-preserved," said Myers. "This particular specimen sank some distance from the shoreline in water which was perhaps 50-80 feet in depth. It's a fairly exceptional find, as typically you'll only find one piece of the skeleton, or part of a piece in the local rock."

Read the full story.

Read more about Myers' discover on the SMU Research blog.

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