PHOTO IN THE NEWS: New Giant Toothless Pterosaur Found

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December 5, 2008—With a wingspan longer than a full-size sedan, a new species of pterosaur dubbed Lacusovagus magnificens, or "magnificent lake wanderer," is the largest of its kind yet found, a new study reports.

The ancient flying reptile (seen at left in an artist's reconstruction) is also the first Chaoyangopterid—a family of toothless pterosaurs—found outside of China, noted Mark Witton, the University of Portsmouth researcher who named the species based on a partial skull fossil.

Witton made his discovery after examining remains from Brazil's Crato formation, layers of limestone that roughly date to the early Cretaceous period, about 115 million years ago.

The site, once a brackish lagoon, has yielded several other pterosaur species, but so far the skull fragments Witton analyzed represent the only existing Lacusovagus fossil.

The skull's size suggests that the Brazilian pterosaur had a roughly 16-foot (5-meter) wingspan and stood about 3.3 feet (a meter) high at its shoulders. With its long neck and jaw, the animal would have seemed as tall as a typical adult human (right).

"Some of the previous examples we have from this family in China are just 60 centimeters [24 inches] long—as big as the skull of the new species," Witton said in a university statement.

"Put simply, it dwarfs any Chaoyangopterid we've seen before by miles."

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