A team of researchers form the UK, the US and Morocco headed by David Martill, a paleontologist at the University of Portsmouth, have identified three new species of flying reptiles that are believed to have inhabited prehistoric Morocco.
“We are in a golden age for discovering pterodactyls. This year alone we have discovered three new species and we are only into March,” said Martill.
A new study, published in the journal Cretaceous Research, revealed that the pterosaurs had wingspans of about three to four metres, judging from chunks of jaws and teeth found in the middle-cretaceous era Kem Kem Beds in modern-day Morocco.
“The new finds show that African pterosaurs were quite similar to those found on other continents,” a spokesperson for the university said. “These flying predators soared above a world dominated by predators, including crocodile-like hunters and carnivorous dinosaurs. Interestingly, herbivores such as sauropods and ornithischian dinosaurs are rare”.
“Many of the predators, including the toothed pterosaurs, preyed on a superabundance of fish,” the spokesperson suggested. “These aerial fishers snatched up their prey while on the wing, using a murderous-looking set of large spike-like teeth that formed a highly effective tooth grab. Large pterosaurs such as these would have been able to forage over vast distances, similar to present-day birds such as condors and albatrosses”.
One of the three species, named anhanguera, has reportedly been previously identified in Brazil, while another called ornithocheirus was earlier found in England and mid-Asia.