Canadian pterosaur discovery

This video from the USA is called Texas pterosaur.

From the University of Alberta in Canada:

New species of flying reptile identified on B.C. coast

Persistence paid off for a University of Alberta paleontology researcher, who after months of pondering the origins of a fossilized jaw bone, finally identified it as a new species of pterosaur, a flying reptile that lived 70 million years ago.

Victoria Arbour says she was stumped when the small piece of jaw bone was first pulled out of of a fossil storage cabinet in the U of A’s paleontology department.

“It could have been from a dinosaur, a fish or a marine reptile,” said Arbour. ”

Arbour, a PhD student in paleontology, says the first clue to the fossil’s identify came after she compared it to known species of pterosaurs, “I found a previously published paper describing the teeth of a previously discovered pterosaur and ours was very close,” said Arbour.

“The teeth of our fossil were small and set close together,” said Arbour. “They reminded me of piranha teeth, designed for pecking away at meat.” That led Arbour to believe her new species, named Gwawinapterus beardi was a scavenger of the late Cretaceous. “It had a wing span of about 3 metres and patrolled the sky and set down to feed on the leftover kills made by predator dinosaurs of the time such as Albertosaurus.”

The fossil is not only a new species it’s the first pterosaur of any kind to be found in British Columbia. It was found on Hornby Island, off the coast of Vancouver Island

However, Arbour says the place where the fossil was located has little to do with the actual area where the living pterosaur, was actually flying around 70 million years ago.

“In the late Cretaceous period, the B.C. coastal islands were about 2,500 kilometres to the south and part of what is now mainland, California,” said Arbour.

Arbour’s research was published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

See also here.

Sometimes research is a useful corrective to conventional wisdom. When Dr Mark Witton, a Research Associate at Portsmouth University’s School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, and Dr Michael Habib of Chatham University, Pennsylvania, read that the largest pterosaurs were too big to fly, they knew something was missing. ‘Last year,’ says Dr Witton, ‘a study came out which said that no animal larger than 4 or 5 metres across the wings could fly, and could weigh no more than 40 kilograms. Then this year, another study came out that said that the largest pterosaurs weighed about half a ton and that would make them too heavy to fly’: here.

2 thoughts on “Canadian pterosaur discovery

  1. Mistake in naming of flying reptile leads to bruised feelings, lost credit


    VICTORIA— From Monday’s Globe and Mail

    Published Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011 11:36PM EST
    Last updated Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011 11:44PM EST

    On a warm May morning six years ago, Sharon Hubbard took advantage of an extraordinarily low tide to wander far off a beach on Hornby Island.

    She stumbled upon an unusual fossil that day that eventually would lead to the discovery of a new species of pterosaur. It also led to an inadvertent mistake in the naming of the prehistoric flying reptile and some bruised feelings.

    The shoreline near Collishaw Point is known by locals as Fossil Beach, a rocky stretch littered with concretions — rocks that can be cracked open to reveal fossils. The ammonites hidden inside are usually the fossilized hard shells of extinct mollusks.

    Ms. Hubbard, an artist, likes to carve their coiled image into soapstone. She is also an amateur paleontologist who has shared with academics discoveries from Hornby and places farther afield such as Apple Bay on northern Vancouver Island.

    Far off the shore at Hornby, in an area usually under water, she clambered over rocks slick with kelp.

    “I tapped this one concretion,” she said, “expecting something else than what I got.”

    She had never seen anything like it.

    “The teeth were evident, 50 or 60. I had never seen teeth that shape. They were about half-an-inch long, conical, serrated edge.”

    She placed a ruler beside the fossilized jawbone, taking three photographs.

    She carefully made her way over the rocks to show her find to Graham Beard, who had accompanied her that day. Mr. Beard is curator of the paleontological collection at the Qualicum Beach Museum, where the current star attraction is a 70,000-year-old walrus skeleton, known as Rosie.

    “I honestly thought he was going to have a heart attack,” she said. “He couldn’t even breathe. I knew I had something really incredible.”

    Mr. Beard took the fossil, which eventually was sent to the University of Alberta, where it was placed in a storage cabinet and forgotten.

    Six years passed. Over that time, doctoral student Victoria Arbour stumbled across the Hornby fossil, identified as VIPM 1513. The abbreviation represented Mr. Beard’s Vancouver Island Paleontological Museum. She was puzzled. It could have been a fish, or a dinosaur, or a marine reptile.

    The way in which the teeth were set so close together reminded her of piranha teeth.

    The dentition also reminded her of a pterosaur, which are commonly, though erroneously, known as pterodactyls.

    She compared the fragment with other pterosaurs before coming to a conclusion – this was a new species, a scavenger of the late Cretaceous period, about 70-million-years old. It is believed to have had a wingspan of about three metres.

    It is also the first pterosaur to be found in what is now British Columbia.

    (When the flying creature dined on leftovers from predatory dinosaur kills, the coastal islands of British Columbia were at least 2,400 kilometres south of their present location, around Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.)

    Ms. Arbour wrote an academic paper with professor Philip Currie, which was published online last month. A press release issued by the university a week ago introduced the creature to the world.

    As a new genus and species, the creature needed a name. The academics came up with Gwawinapterus beardi — from the Kwak’wala word for raven, because the jawbone is reminiscent of the raven masks worn by the Kwakwaka’wakw people; and, to honour Mr. Beard, who “discovered the specimen, and for his contributions to the study of paleontology on Vancouver Island.”

    Only Mr. Beard didn’t discover the fossil. Ms. Hubbard did.

    The academics “feel very badly” about the mistake, Ms. Arbour said, accepting responsibility for the error.

    They will try to have a correction added to the scientific paper to ensure Ms. Hubbard’s discovery is properly credited.

    One thing they cannot do, though, is change the name.

    Under the conventions of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, the pterosaur is to remain Gwawinapterus beardi.

    Ms. Hubbard, who is the first homo sapien to hold in her hands the remains of this creature, had thought it could be called Hornbyensis humbardii.

    Though she is not rewarded with the honour of lending her name to her discovery, Ms. Hubbard, 63, promises to share the find with the people of the province. She would like to place the fossil with the Royal B.C. Museum.

    Meanwhile, she will not abandon the hunt.

    “I tend to find the unusual. I’ve done it over and over again,” she said.

    “Paleontology here is only 150 years old. By finding new stuff, you’re just about an explorer.”

    You never know which rock, which “dark grey silty mudstones with thin-bedded sandstone turbidites,” will crack open to reveal a prize never before seen by human eyes.

    Special to The Globe and Mail


  2. Pingback: Female pterosaur with egg discovered | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.