Recently, paleontologists and researchers accidentally discovered the remains of a near-complete, new pterosaur species–a specialized flying reptile–in a Bavaria, Southern Germany quarry.
The experts were working on excavating alligator bones from a limestone block when they stumbled upon the discovery. The researchers distinguish the newly discovered species, naming it Balaenognathus maeuseri. [i]
Data collected indicates that these new species descend from the clade of pterodactyloid pterosaurs & utilized ram filter-feeding. Ram filter-feeding entails swimming forward, filter-feeding with mouth agape. Animals who use filter feeding “find their meal by moving through the water.” Alternatively, they can also take advantage of water moving by them and extracting small pieces of food and other particles from the water.” [ii] [iii]
For two reasons, the newly discovered fossils differ enough to be classified as a new species. First, the terminal end of the jaws forms a triangular, broad, round-ended platform with no teeth on the front of the mouth. Second, the new specimen has “teeth long, slender and with a hook on the crown tip,” longer than any other known species. [vi]
Watch the video below for more information on filter feeding.
Researchers suggest that the new pterosaur’s teeth indicate a unique feeding mechanism employed as the pterosaur moved through the water. The animals would use their spoon-shaped beaks to funnel water, using their teeth to squeeze out excess liquid, trapping prey in its mouth. [vii]
The newly discovered creature is long-legged and spatula-beaked, existing for most of the Mesozoic Era. The discovered remains indicate that the reptiles also had “paper-thin bones, long and skinny fingers, wings of skin and front-loaded boadies.” This combination of distinctive traits made them “excellent and unique fliers” but poor fossilizers. [iv] [v]
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[i] David M. Martill et al., A new pterodactyloid pterosaur with a unique filter-feeding apparatus from the Late Jurassic of Germany (Jan. 21, 2023)
[iii] Jennifer Perez, How Does Filter Feeding Work? (Aug. 4, 2022)
[iv] David M. Martill et al., A new pterodactyloid pterosaur with a unique filter-feeding apparatus from the Late Jurassic of Germany (Jan. 21, 2023)
[v] Natalia Jagielska, Stephen L. Brusatte, Pterosaurs - Current Biology, (Aug. 23, 2021)
[vi] David M. Martill et al., A new pterodactyloid pterosaur with a unique filter-feeding apparatus from the Late Jurassic of Germany (Jan. 21, 2023)
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