An ancient armored fish was fossilized in the act of attacking and drowning a pterosaur in a toxic Jurassic lake, revealing that the winged reptiles were victims of a wide variety of carnivores, scientists find.
Pterosaurs dominated the skies during the Age of Dinosaurs. Still, flight did not always ensure them safety — researchers have recently discovered that Velociraptor dined on the flying reptiles.
Now scientists have uncovered five examples of the long-tailed pterosaur Rhamphorhychus apparently within the jaws of the ancient armored predatory fish Aspidorhynchus. The fossils in question, unearthed in Bavaria in southern Germany, are about 120 million years old.
All of the pterosaur victims discovered, which had wingspans of about 27 inches (70 cm), were positioned such that their wings were near the mouths of their 25-inch-long (65 cm) fish predators. That suggests that the predator might have grabbed hold of their wing membranes. In one specimen, a pterosaur wing bone is actually caught within the jaws of the fish. In another of the fossils, the pterosaur has a tiny fish in its throat, apparently swallowing it headfirst. This suggests the flying reptile was alive when it was seized, and not dead and perhaps scavenged by the armored fish. [Album: 25 Amazing Ancient Beasts]
The researchers speculate the Aspidorhynchus fish attacked the pterosaur while it was flying just above the water surface right after plucking a fish from the sea, grabbed the pterosaur’s left wing and pulled the animal under water….