In Germany, scientists found a new kind of dinosaur(pterosaur) with more than 400 teeth that ate similarly to ducks and flamingos.
The remarkably complete pterosaur fossil Balaenognathus maeuseri was discovered by chance in a Bavarian quarry while scientists were digging a big block of limestone containing crocodile bones. (Balaenognathus is a medium-sized ctenochasmatid, with an estimated wingspan of 1.17 metres (3.8 ft). Its snout is very distinctive among pterosaurs.)
Since the first pterosaur was discovered in Bavarian limestone in the 18th century, hundreds of pterosaur bones have been uncovered, making the Franconian Jura quarries one of the richest pterosaur sites in the world.
Palaeontologists from England, Germany, and Mexico participated in the study, which was directed by Professor David Martill of the University of Portsmouth in Hampshire.
According to the news of Evening Standard, Prof Martill said that: “The nearly complete skeleton was found in a very finely layered limestone that preserves fossils beautifully. The jaws of this pterosaur are really long and lined with small, fine, hooked teeth, with tiny spaces between them like a nit comb. The long jaw is curved upwards like an avocet and at the end it flares out like a spoonbill. There are no teeth at the end of its mouth, but there are teeth all the way along both jaws right to the back of its smile.”
“What’s even more remarkable is some of the teeth have a hook on the end, which we’ve never seen before in a pterosaur ever. These small hooks would have been used to catch the tiny shrimp the pterosaur likely fed on – making sure they went down its throat and weren’t squeezed between the teeth.” he added.
Like ducks and flamingos, the animal most likely dipped as it waded in shallow lagoons, sucking in small water shrimp and copepods and then filtering them out via its teeth.
Because of its filter-feeding habits, the name “Balaenognathus” roughly translates to “whale mouth,” and the specific name “maeuseri” is in honor of co-author Matthias Mauser, who passed away while the study was being written. “Matthias was a friendly and warm-hearted colleague of a kind that can be scarcely found. In order to preserve his memory, we named the pterosaur in his honour.” said Prof Martill.
The specimen is presently on exhibit in Germany’s Bamberg Natural History Museum.
Cover Photo: Megan Jacobs’s impression of Balaenognathus maeuseri, a new dinosaur discovered in Germany / Portsmouth University