The Tiniest Pterosaur

A beautifully preserved fossil of a tiny pterosaur has been discovered in China. And he’s just plain adorable!
The new fossil, which was discovered in 2004 in western Liaoning province, China, is about 120 million years old.

The specimen is an almost complete, articulated skeleton with a wingspan of just 25 centimetres, making it about the size of a swallow, says its discoverer, palaeontologist Xiaolin Wang of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

The little dinosaur had curved toe bones, suggesting that it perched in trees. It appears to be a primitive relative of the giant pterodactyls we are familiar with. Scientists have named the species Nemicoloperus crypticus. Link -via Digg

(image credit: Chuang Zhao)

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First of all, why don't they have a picture of the actual fossil, instead of a cheesy model in a plastic tree? Second of all, Bean is right, this thing could easily be a hatchling. What other evidence suggests it's just a tinier version of a different species? It's not like we have thousands of these things to compare it to. Paleontologists love to jump to conclusions, and then repeat those things as fact.
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How cute! But primitive relative of giant pterosaurs? That may be an oversimplification. Pterosaurs once filled a wide variety of niches, and came in all shapes and sizes. But they couldn't compete with birds, and were eventually forced into the only niche where they still had an advantage, that of giant gliders.
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