Last updated: 30 March 2022
Pterosaurs - commonly known as ‘pterodactyls’ - are some of the most iconic extinct animals. These dinosaur cousins were the first vertebrates to evolve flight, and thrived for over 100 million years during the Mesozoic Era. Very little is known, however, about their evolution during the Middle Jurassic, due to a global lack of fossils. This is frustrating because this interval was likely a critical time in pterosaur history, when they transitioned from small, long-tailed, primitive forms into the great diversity of species that characterized their Mesozoic heyday.
Our team recently discovered the most complete skeleton of a Middle Jurassic pterosaur from the UK - and one of the most complete worldwide - in the Lealt Shale Formation of the Isle of Skye, Scotland. It promises to reveal important insights into the anatomy, relationships, feeding habits, flight abilities, and favoured habitats of Middle Jurassic pterosaurs. This project will comprise a detailed study, description, and identification of the new specimen, and will use it as a springboard to examine the relationships and evolution of Middle Jurassic pterosaurs more broadly.
Illuminating the ‘dark age’ of pterosaur evolution: an exceptional skeleton from the Middle Jurassic of Skye, Scotland
2019 - present
University of Edinburgh Supervisors
Dr Stephen Brusatte and Dr Mark Wilkinson - School of GeoSciences