Good-Flying Cosmopolitan Pterosaur Found Earlier Than Thought
A large pterosaur in Utah is 65 million Darwin Years older than thought, but was already built for flying.
Very few pterosaurs are known from Triassic rock; this one is amazingly well preserved. What does evolutionary paleontologist Steven Brusatte think of it? He tells the BBC News,
It’s a trifecta: a Triassic pterosaur from a new place, preserved in an immaculate way, and found in rocks from an environment that we didn’t think they lived in so early during their evolution. What this means is that pterosaurs were already geographically widespread and thriving in a variety of environments very early in their evolution.
He says “in their evolution” twice, but the quote works just fine without that tacked-on prepositional phrase (also a presuppositional phrase). Nothing about this fossil suggests evolution. Phys.org says it was “built for flying.” Yet it is found in rocks 200 million Darwin Years old, 65 million years earlier than evolutionists had thought pterosaurs lived.
Brusatte brings global warming into the discussion:
The new species is most closely related to an Early Jurassic-aged British pterosaur, which means that these primitive pterosaur groups not only were widespread, but they survived the great extinction at the end of the Triassic, when volcanoes welled up through the cracks of the fracturing supercontinent Pangaea and caused a runaway global warming event that may be similar to what we’re experiencing today.
Readers should note that Britain and Utah are on nearly opposite sides of the globe, some 5,000 miles apart. The only other Triassic pterosaur remains come from Greenland. Unlike most pterosaur fossils, which are usually scattered and delicate, this one was remarkably well preserved.
Why is this pterosaur “primitive”? It could fly. It had a 1.5-meter wingspan. Achieving powered flight for a heavier-than-air creature that large requires many specialized traits. Pterosaurs were the first vertebrates capable of active flight, says Live Science, although insects were masters of flight, too. It’s the most complete skeleton of a pterosaur ever found, says Marlowe Hood in Phys.org:
“Most pterosaurs bones look like road-kill,” Britt told AFP, noting that there are only 30-odd specimens worldwide from the Triassic period which lasted some 51 million years.
By contrast, the new specimen comprises dozens of intact bones and teeth, along with an entire brain casing.
Live Science says it sported 110 teeth, including 4 “wicked fangs”. It was found in 2014 in the “Saints and Sinners Quarry” in Utah.
Abrupt appearance; fully formed; no evolution; now extinct. This is the pattern. Stephen Jay Gould’s “trade secret of paleontology” is now well known.