February 11, 2008—An illustration shows a newfound "mini pterodactyl," which lived in the canopies of ancient gingko forests in what is now China about 120 million years ago.
The sparrow-size Nemicolopterus crypticus, whose discovery was announced this week by Chinese and Brazilian scientists, is one of the smallest pterosaurs known.
Despite its small stature and 10-inch (25-centimeter) wingspan, the toothless reptile may be the ancestor of gigantic pterodactyls that stretched 20-feet (6-meters) from wing tip to wing tip.
This fossil “opens a new chapter on the evolutionary history of this group of [flying] reptiles,” said study lead author Alexander Kellner, of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
The study was published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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