Fossil of oldest pterodactyl discovered in Utah desert

After discovering the pterodactyl’s fossilized remains in northeastern Utah, scientists suggest the creature was the first flying vertebrate on Earth.

About 210 million years ago, a strange “bird” with a pelican-like pouch, big fangs and a large, five-foot wingspan circled above the Utah desert, searching for its next meal.

Now, after discovering the pterodactyl’s fossilized remains in northeastern Utah, scientists suggest the creature was the first flying vertebrate on Earth, according to a new study released Monday.

In fact, the new fossil pushes back the first flying vertebrate by some 65 million years, all the way back into the Triassic period.

The new pterodactyl (flying reptiles that scientists officially call a pterosaur) specimen is named Caelestiventus hanseni, which in Latin means “heavenly wind.” Dating back more than 200 million years, it’s one of the earliest ever found.

“Triassic pterosaurs are extraordinarily rare,” said study lead author Brooks Britt, a geologist at Brigham Young University. The animal was not a bird nor a dinosaur, though it lived at about the same time as the famed beasts. 

Source: Fossil of oldest pterodactyl discovered in Utah desert

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