A new species of flying reptile that died out with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago has been named for its fanglike teeth, British scientists said Tuesday.
Palaeobiologists at the University of Portsmouth in southern England dubbed the remains of the pterosaur found on a beach on the Isle of Wight three years ago Caulkicephalus trimicrodon.
Caulkhead is the informal name for natives of the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England, and trimicrodon means three small teeth.
"It has massive fanglike front teeth, behind which are three small teeth. Behind those are bigger teeth and then rows of smaller teeth," said David Martill, who described the specimen in the journal Cretaceous Research.
"It was a fish-eater, with a crest on the tip of its snout and a wing span of 5 meters (yards), which would have made it one of the largest flying animals of its time," he added in a statement.
Pterosaurs, or winged lizards, evolved the ability to fly. They lived from about 228 million to 65 million years ago.
Their size ranged from that of a small bird to a creature with a wingspan of up to 18 meters or 60 feet. They had hollow bones, thin bodies, large brains, crests and long beaks.
Flight in pterosaurs evolved separately from birds. Scientists had thought that the creatures used to glide on the wind, but research has shown that large species could fly. Some species had a hairlike covering on their body.
Martill said that the flying reptile evolved many different forms and that at least two groups became toothless.