January 23, 2023

New pterosaur species with hundreds of tiny hooked teeth discovered

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2023-01-24 17:30:11

January 23, 2023

An unusual new species of pterosaur has been identified, which had over 400 teeth that looked like the prongs of a nit comb.

Professor David Martill, lead author of the research, from the University of Portsmouth's School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences, said, "The nearly complete skeleton was found in a very finely layered limestone that preserves fossils beautifully.

"The jaws of this pterosaur are really long and lined with small fine, hooked teeth, with tiny spaces between them like a nit comb. The long jaw is curved upwards like an avocet and at the end it flares out like a spoonbill. There are no teeth at the end of its mouth, but there are teeth all the way along both jaws right to the back of its smile.

"And what's even more remarkable is some of the teeth have a hook on the end, which we've never seen before in a pterosaur ever. These small hooks would have been used to catch the tiny shrimp the pterosaur likely fed on—making sure they went down its throat and weren't squeezed between the teeth." Balaenognathus maeuseri gen. et sp. nov. (NKMB P2011-633): holotype and only reported specimen, Torleite Formation of Wattendorf (Late Jurassic). Some small gaps in the slab have been infilled with minor restoration of some bones. A portion of the distal extremity of the left metacarpal IV and part of the left anterior ilium process are known to be missing. Some other missing elements (e.g., the pteroids) may be concealed under larger bones. Credit: PalZ (2023). DOI: 10.1007/s12542-022-00644-4

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