A team of palaeontologists from the University of Portsmouth recently announced the discovery of the fossilized remains of an until now unknown pterosaur species. This ancient flying reptile evolved about 166 million years ago. The details of the study are published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.
Pterosaurs are the great flying reptiles that dominated the sky at the time of the dinosaurs. Many species have been discovered, but this one has a special character. This new pterosaur – called Klobiodon rochei – which evolved in south-central England about 166 million years ago, had indeed a mouth full of sharp teeth. Few species of pterosaurs of the Middle Jurassic had teeth, note the researchers. The teeth measured about 2.6 centimeters, locked in the jaws of the animal, which at the time had a fish and squid diet.
“Klobiodon has been known to us for centuries, archived in a museum drawer and seen by dozens or hundreds of scientists, but its importance has been neglected because it has been confused with another species since the 1800s,” said paleontologist Michael O’Sullivan of the University of Portsmouth.
New bones, discovered in a slate layer about 16 km from the city of Oxford, eventually led researchers to understand that it was ultimately a brand new species. “Only the lower jaw of Klobiodon rochei is known, but its dental configuration is unique and distinguishes it from other pterosaurs,” the researcher notes.
Klobiodon, which had a wingspan of about 2 meters, evolved at the time in a much warmer climate than today. 166 million years ago, Britain was not yet a gigantic island, but consisted of a series of small tropical islands (the sea level was much higher). K. rochei was of course not alone. The latter frequented, for example, the same region as one of the most famous species of dinosaurs in England, the Megalosaurus. These dreaded theropods, which looked a little like T. Rex, appeared much later and could measure 6 to 7 meters in length and 3 meters in height.
A few days ago, a team of paleontologists from the University of Southern California (USC, USA) also announced that they had discovered the trace of a shark tooth stuck in a vertebra of a pteranodon, one of the largest pterosaurs in history (7.5 meters wingspan). So these reptiles – as aerial as they were – were still vulnerable to creatures from the depths. This was also probably the case for the Klobiodon rochei who frequented the English coast.