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Polaris of Enlightenment

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Polaris of Enlightenment

New species of dinosaur discovered in Scotland

Published 11 February 2024
- By Editorial Staff

Fossils of a previously unknown species of flying lizard have been discovered on a Scottish island, surprising scientists, as similar fossils have been found mainly in China. The species is thought to have lived during the Jurassic period 165 million years ago.

Paleontologists from Britain’s Natural History Museum found the fossils, which consist of parts of shoulders, wings, legs and backbones, during an excavation in 2006 in the village of Elgol on Skye, Scotland. Since the discovery, several years have been spent carefully preparing the specimen and scanning the bones, some of which are still embedded in stone.

The researchers call the dinosaur Ceoptera evansae, from the Scottish Gaelic word “Ceò”, meaning mist, and the Latin word “ptera”, meaning wing. The dinosaur is also called “evansae” in honor of Professor Susan Evans, who has been conducting paleontological research on the Scottish island for several years.

The findings, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, show that it had a wingspan of 1.6 meters. The flying lizard probably originated during the Jurassic period and lived during the Middle Jurassic period, about 165 million years ago.

After comparing Ceoptera with other flying lizards, it is considered likely that they belong to the genus Darwinopterus, a group that represents the transition between early flying lizards and later flying lizards. In the past, fossils of this genus were mostly found in China. Ceoptera evansae is the second species found within the genus.

Flying lizard genus more diverse than thought

Fossils of flying lizards are generally limited, and their bones are often fragile. Because they were airborne, they did not spend much time on the ground, especially near lakes and rivers, where fossils are most likely to be found.

The findings, they say, show that the genus of flying lizards was probably more diverse than previously thought and that the species lived for more than 25 million years.

– Ceoptera helps to narrow down the timing of several major events in the evolution of flying reptiles, Professor Paul Barrett, senior research fellow at the Natural History Museum, told Britain’s Independent newspaper, and goes on:

– Its appearance in the Middle Jurassic of the UK was a complete surprise, as most of its close relatives are from China. It shows that the advanced group of flying reptiles to which it belongs appeared earlier than we thought and quickly gained an almost worldwide distribution.

The researchers are optimistic that this discovery is the beginning of the discovery of more species of flying lizards, which would deepen the knowledge of the dinosaurs’ way of life.

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