Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fossil of the week 5/14/09

In honor of this week's late update, I present to you "Holly" RMDRC 09-007, a pterosaur from the lower Niobrara Chalk of western Kansas. It's only fitting, since the excavation of this specimen is the reason this week's update was so late. confirmation of the genus waits on further prep work, though we have a pretty good idea what it is.

I discovered this specimen Monday morning while scouting on a private ranch. Excavation took about a day, and the entire specimen (including the rarely preserved skull) is back in our lab now. The blocks contain most of the body and wings as well as the rear portion of the lower jaws. Preparation will commence as soon as I get back from a small spurt of paleo conferences over the next few weeks.

Pterosaur remains are not uncommon  in the Niobrara, even though our dig sites are several hundred miles away from the nearest shore. Pterosaurs were strong flyers, and appeared to spend quite a lot of time hunting over the open ocean. The males had elaborate crests, most likely to attract females, just like their very distant cousins today!

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