A finding to get your (fossilised) teeth into
Dr David Unwin from our School of Museum Studies worked with Dr David Martill from the University of Portsmouth to reconstruct the mysterious dinosaur from a tiny bone fragment, stored for years in the Natural History Museum. The jawbone had been in the Museum since 1884, after it was found by legendary paleontologist Sir Richard Owen - but had never been identified.
Dr Unwin and Dr Martill decided to tackle the hundred-year-old mystery, and reconstructed the beast from the available fossil. It turned out to be the largest example of a winged, toothed dinosaur ever found, with a wingspan of almost 7 meters. Paleontologists have long known that pterosaurs without teeth can reach wingspans of 10 meters, but it was previously thought that toothed pterosaurs only reached 6 meters in span.
Dr Martill described the pterosaur as the ugliest fossil he's ever studied, but both academics were enthusiastic about the new discovery. Their investigation and findings are published in Cretaceous Research.
- University Press Release
- Martill, D. M. and Unwin, D. M. 2011. The world’s largest toothed pterosaur, NHMUK R481, an incomplete rostrum of Coloborhynchus capito (Seeley 1870) from the Cambridge Greensand of England. Cretaceous Research