Scientists from the Natural History Museum, University of Bristol, University of Leicester, and University of Liverpool have made an exciting discovery on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. They have announced the finding of a winged dinosaur skeleton believed to have lived 166 to 168 million years ago. The remains of the pterosaur named Ceoptera evansae were initially discovered in 2006 on a small beach along the coastline of Loch Scavaig.
Using digital scanning techniques, the researchers were able to uncover previously inaccessible elements of the skeleton embedded in rock. This breakthrough allowed them to identify Ceoptera evansae as a member of a pterosaur group known as Darwinoptera, which was previously thought to mainly inhabit China.
The discovery of Ceoptera evansae on the Isle of Skye challenges previous assumptions about the geographical distribution of Darwinoptera. It suggests that these winged dinosaurs may have existed outside of China and lived 25 million years longer than previously believed.
Interestingly, the analysis of Ceoptera evansae’s remains indicates that it coexisted with avialans, dinosaur species that are believed to have evolved into modern birds. This discovery provides valuable insights into the evolution of flying reptiles during an important period.
Professor Mike Taylor from the University of Bristol described the finding as a “complete surprise,” emphasizing the significance of narrowing down the timing of major events in the evolution of pterosaurs. This breakthrough brings researchers one step closer to understanding the evolution of pterosaurs during this critical period.
The study detailing the findings was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology on February 5, 2023. This exciting discovery highlights the importance of continued scientific exploration and the potential for unexpected findings to deepen our understanding of prehistoric life.