Web edition: August 24, 2012
David Hone of the University of Bristol in England has made a career of studying pterosaurs — flying reptiles from 100 million years ago or more. Several years back, while working in southern Germany, he visited the local Solnhofen Museum along with a lot of other pterosaur experts. As they peered into a glass museum case that held a sandy-colored, fossil-bearing rock, he recalls the scientists saying something like: “How lovely, another Rhamphorhynchus.” The fossil was nice, but tiny — and just one of some 120 or so specimens of this pterosaur from about 150 million years ago.
Except that it wasn’t.