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100 million years ago, a tremendous inland sea covered Texas and toothy, winged dinosaurs soared over what's now downtown Austin. A new fossil shows the range of such creatures -- and the end of the species. Based on a fossil found in 2006, a new member of the winged lizard family commonly called pterodactyls has been identified. And while the dinosaur soared over the seas a stunning 95 million years ago, it's one of the youngest members of the family ever identified.
Pterosaurs ruled the skies from the late Triassic, more than 200 million years ago, to the end of the Cretaceous, about 65 million years ago, when they went extinct. They represent the earliest vertebrates capable of flying.
"I was scanning the exposure and noticed what at first I thought was a piece of oyster shell spanning across a small erosion valley," said Hall as he recalled the discovery. "Only about an inch or two was exposed. I almost passed it up thinking it was oyster, but realized it was more tan-colored, like bone. I started uncovering it and realized it was the jaw to something -- but I had no idea what. It was upside down and when I turned over the snout portion it was nothing but a long row of teeth sockets, which was very exciting."