Scientists have announced the discovery of Alanqa saharicafrom, an early pterosaur that lived 95 million years ago in Morocco.Unearthed in three separate pieces, the jaw bone has a total length of 344 mm. Each piece is well preserved, uncrushed, and unlike most other pterosaur fossils, retains its original three dimension shape.
"This pterosaur is distinguished from all others by its lance-shaped lower jaw which had no teeth and looked rather like the beak of a heron," says Nizar Ibrahim. "During the excavation, we also discovered a partial neck vertebra that probably belonged to the same animal, inferring a wing span of about six metres."
The scientists have named the new pterosaur Alanqa saharicafrom the Arabic word 'Al Anqa' meaning Phoenix, a mythological flying creature that dies in a fire and is reborn from the ashes of that fire. On the same expedition, and in the same region as where the fossils of Alanqa saharica were uncovered, the scientists also discovered fossils of two other previously identified types of pterosaur. This suggests that several types of pterosaurs lived alongside one another in the same region at the time, each probably specializing in a different ecological niche.
"When this pterosaur was alive, the Sahara desert was a river bed basin lush with tropical plant and animal life," explains Ibrahim. "This means there were lots of opportunities for different pterosaurs to co-exist, and perhaps feeding on quite different kinds of prey." link