University of Detroit Mercy’s Nizar Ibrahim was part of an international team of scientists, led by Baylor University’s Megan Jacobs and including researchers from England and Morocco, that identified three new species of toothed pterosaurs. The pterosaurs were part of an ancient river ecosystem in Africa that was full of life, including fish, crocs, turtles and several predatory dinosaurs.
The new fossils, published in the journal Cretaceous Research, are helping to uncover the very poorly known evolutionary history of Africa during the time of the dinosaurs. The new finds show that African pterosaurs were quite similar to those found on other continents. These flying predators soared above a world dominated by predators, including crocodile-like hunters and carnivorous dinosaurs. Interestingly, herbivores such as sauropods and ornithischian dinosaurs are rare. Many of the predators, including the toothed pterosaurs, preyed on a superabundance of fish.
“These new finds provide an important window into the world of African pterosaurs,” said Ibrahim, assistant professor of Biology at Detroit Mercy. “We know so much more about pterosaurs from places like Europe and Asia, so describing new specimens from Africa is always very exciting.”