This Fossil Found in Texas Suggests Pterosaurs Could Fly Really Far

Michele Debczak
iStock / iStock

Paleontologists have dug up a 94-million-year-old pterosaur fossil in Texas—the first of its kind discovered in North America. A paper recently published in the Journal of Vertebrae Paleontology reports that the species' closest relative is a pterosaur that was native to what would have been England today, indicating that the creatures were capable of flying extreme distances.

There were other pterosaurs known to have lived in the area at the time, but it was rare for them to have teeth like the newly discovered Cimoliopterus dunni did. Paleontologists believe that its closest relative wasn't among the pterosaurs of North America or South America but the Cimoliopterus cuvieri of Europe. And even though the continents of the Cretaceous period weren’t yet as spread out as they are today, the Atlantic was still progressively widening. The discovery of this species in Texas shows that the creatures were stronger and more comfortable with cross-ocean flights than paleontologists had previously believed. 

The lack of toothed pterosaur fossils discovered in the Americas suggests that traveling between the continents was still quite a journey for the ancient pterosaurs. That makes the Texas C. dunni's transatlantic flight an impressive achievement, even 94 million years later. 

[h/t: Gizmodo]