Turns out Scotland’s Isle of Skye was once home to an enormous flying reptile with a wingspan about a wide as your bed is long. The pterosaur, also known as a pterodactyl, had a wingspan of more than 8 feet. It was originally believed that pterosaurs did not reach this size until about 25 million years later, but scientists now know that the flying reptile reached its mammoth proportions by the Jurassic period (about 170 million years ago).
The discovering and timing are important because scientists believe birds evolved from dinosaurs about the time this pterosaur was living. The discovery alters everything we believe about the timeline of bird’s evolution.
This particular specimen, dubbed Dearc sgiathanach meaning both ‘winged reptile’ and ‘reptile from Skye’ in Scottish Gaelic, is notable for the completeness of the fossil. It’s about 70% complete, which is outstanding for a pterosaur.
The scientists were nice enough to give us a graphic below which summarizes their findings quite well.