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BYU professor discovers rare pterosaur in Utah

BYU professor discovers rare pterosaur in Utah

(Michael Skrepnick, Nate Edwards, BYU Photo)

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PROVO — A Utah professor discovered an extremely rare fossil called pterosaur, which is helping scientists’ understanding of this prehistoric creature.

Brooks Britt, a geological sciences professor at Brigham Young University, took large block samples from the Saints and Sinners Quarry in northeastern Utah.

Britt and a team of students started to excavate and felt confident they were going to find something. After discovering some irregular bones, they realized they had an intact fossil of a pterosaur. Usually these fossils are scarce and very fragile.

According to Britt, this pterosaur dated back to when Utah was part of the super-continent Pangea. 3-D fossils of this creature are rare, and Britt says examples like this help scientists correct their understanding of how the winged reptile is structured and the range of motion it had.

Usually pterosaurs are found where there is water, he said, so to find it in a desert landscape is a new discovery. This shows these creatures were able to live in more diverse climates than originally thought, according to Britt.

He named the discovery Caelestiventis Hanseni. Britt and his team were also able to recover five ancient crocodiles.

Britt says the fossils gives them “insight into the earliest age of dinosaurs.” The remains are currently being examined and scanned for comparison to other samples.

“Utah is heaven on earth for dinosaurs,” Britt said.

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