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Teeth with hooks: Unusual pterosaur species discovered in Upper Franconia


Pterosaurs don't actually have hooks on their teeth, but this new species is different. Her dentition suggests she caught food using a technique now known from whales.

Enlarge image

Reconstruction of the pterosaur Balaenognathus maeuseri

Photo: Joschua Knüppe / Natural History Museum Bamberg / dpa

Long legs, a spoon-shaped beak and more than 400 teeth, some of them hooked - scientists have discovered an unusual new species of pterosaur in a quarry in Upper Franconia.

The German-English research team gave the new pterosaur the scientific name Balaenognathus maeuseri.

The genus name translates as whale jaws, said the Natural History Museum in Bamberg, where the skeleton is on display.

He alludes to the fact that the dinosaur probably filtered its food out of the water like a baleen whale.

The find was published in the PalZ journal of the Paleontological Society.

The specialist team that examined the pterosaurs under the leadership of the University of Portsmouth considers the shape of the teeth to be particularly remarkable.

"Some have a hook at the end, which has never been seen before in a pterosaur," explained lead author David Martill.

The animal probably used the hooks to catch tiny crabs.

Exceptional diet

The pterosaur probably lived around 154 million years ago in what was then the flat lagoon landscape of what is now Upper Franconia.

The teeth suggest an unusual diet for pterosaurs: Balaenognathus maeuseri probably used its spoon-shaped beak to suck in water.

He then squeezed out excess liquid through his teeth, leaving shrimp and copepods stuck in his mouth.

Researchers accidentally found the well-preserved skeleton in autumn 2011 when they recovered a large block of limestone containing crocodile bones from the quarry near Wattendorf in the district of Bamberg.

"The animal must have been buried in the sediment almost immediately after its death," Martill suspects.

All joints including the ligaments were still in the right place.

The new pterosaur was given its species name maeuseri in honor of the former director of the Natural History Museum in Bamberg, Matthias Mauser.

He is also a co-author of the study but died while working on the August 2021 publication.

The Natural History Museum has been conducting scientific excavations in the quarry near Wattendorf since 2004.

In 2000, fossils from the upper Jurassic period were discovered there.

Many finds are on display in the Natural History Museum, including the world's largest coelacanth from the Upper Jurassic, according to museum director Oliver Wings.


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2023-01-24

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