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Toothy Texas Pterosaur Discovered
from National Geographic News
Long before six flags flew over Texas, a newfound species of winged reptile with an exceptionally toothy grin owned the skies over what is now the Lone Star State. The recently discovered pterosaur, dubbed Aetodactylus halli, was identified based on a 95-million-year-old lower jawbone found outside of Dallas by amateur fossil hunter Lance Hall.
The pterosaur had a relatively slender jaw filled with thin, needlelike teeth, which might have helped the creature pluck fish from the shallow sea that once covered the region, a new study says. "It was hanging out near the ocean, and that is probably where it derived its food from," said study leader Timothy Myers, a paleontologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
By comparing the jawbone to more complete pterosaur fossils, Myers and his team think A. halli was a medium-size animal with a nine-foot (three-meter) wingspan and a short tail.
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