Flying fossil with "whale mouth" found in Germany;  Mexican paleontologist collaborated in research

A new and unusual species of flying reptile that was preserved within fine-grained laminar quarries, which made possible the extraordinary preservation of its remains, It was discovered in Germany.

It is the Balaenognathus maeuseri, which could be identified thanks to the excellent state of preservation in which said fossil animal was found.

Specialists warn that it is a new species, according to the most recent edition of the German magazine Paläontologische Zeitschrift (Paleontological Magazine).

Photo: Palaontologische Zeitschrift

Exclusively for Aristegui Noticias, Héctor Rivera Sylva, head of the Department of Paleontology at the Museo del Desierto (MUDE), and collaborator of this research, points out that the anatomy of the new fossil highlights the existence of more than 400 fine teeth.

Rivera Sylva, who has an important track record regarding flying archosaurs, explained that during the pandemic he was summoned to be part of a group of international experts who will analyze the fossil remains and thus report on this animal found in the vicinity of the town of Wattendorf. in Bavaria, southern Germany.

the name in latin (Balaenognathus) means “whale’s mouth”, due to its characteristic teeth, while that of the species (maeuseri) was in honor of Matthias Mäuser, researcher who collaborated in the discovery and who unfortunately died while writing the article.

Photo: Palaontologische Zeitschrift

The German magazine Paläontologische Zeitschrift, published in its most recent edition, in January, the results of the research carried out by said international team of scientists made up of paleontologists David Martil and Steven Vidovic from England, Eberhard Frey and Helmut Tischlinger from Germany, and Héctor Rivera Sylva. from Mexico.

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The also head of the Department of Paleontology of the Coahuila museum also revealed that the flying reptile found in one of the richest locations in the world in terms of pterosaurs -belonging to the flying archosaurs- with fossils of 150 million years, was a small animal that came to measure between a meter and a half and two meters in wingspan.

Héctor Rivera points out that pterosaurs were flying reptiles that coexisted with dinosaurs during the Mesozoic era, they had wings formed by a strong and flexible membrane supported by the fourth finger of the hand, which was hypertrophied.

Nevertheless, what makes Balaenognathus unique, were its thin jaws full of elongated and fine hooked teeth never seen in other pterosaurs, almost close to each other and the tip of the bill wide.

Image: Palaontologische Zeitschrift

The paleontology expert said that very similar characteristics to the complex feeding system of this animal, today we can see them in current birds such as flamingos and avocets, which have highly specialized beaks with a complex system of internal serrations that allow them to sweep from side to side shallow water or mud, to filter invertebrates from the fine sediment such as worms, aquatic insects and small crustaceans that get caught in the intricate bristle traps.

Finally, Héctor Rivera said that the age of this flying animal cannot be determined with certainty, what we can know with certainty is that its existence corresponds to the end of the Jurassic Period, which is the age of the fossil site where it was found.

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The paleontologist also said that the ecosystem where it was located was probably similar to the beach and that Sandpipers, a living bird species, could have a very similar “ecological niche” to that of the Balaenognathus.

It should also be noted that the graphic reconstruction of this specimen, recently released, was in charge of the Mexican paleoartist Marco A. Pineda Maldonado.

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