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Pterosaurs weren’t all super-sized in the Late Cretaceous

Some of the flying reptiles were smaller than a bald eagle

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7:00am, September 12, 2016
illustration of pterosaurs

TINY FLIER  Some 77 million years ago, little pterosaurs (shown in illustration) shared the sky with gigantic ones, based on new fossils of a small-bodied flying reptile found in British Columbia.

Pterosaurs didn’t have to be gargantuan to survive in the Late Cretaceous.

Fragmentary fossils of a roughly 77-million-year-old pterosaur found in British Columbia suggest it had a wingspan of just 1.5 meters, close to that of a bald eagle. The ancient flier is the smallest pterosaur discovered during this time period — by a lot, report paleontologist Elizabeth Martin-Silverstone of the University of Southampton in England and colleagues August 30 in Royal Society Open Science.

Dozens of larger pterosaurs, some with wings spanning more than 10 meters (nearly the length of a school bus), have been unearthed. But until now, scientists had found only two small-scale versions, with wingspans 2.5 to 3 meters long, from the period stretching from 66 million to 100 million years ago.

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