British Columbia

U.K. researchers confirm discovery in B.C. of first pterosaur fossil

A specimen was thought to have been found in 2011, but later research suggests it was a fish.

Sandy MacLachlan discovered the fossil of the prehistoric winged reptile in 2008

Photographs and interpretative drawings of the left humerus of MacLachlan's fossil, the first pterosaur found in B.C. (royalsocietypublishing.org)

It took eight years, but University of Victoria grad student Sandy MacLachlan has confirmation: he is the discoverer of the first-ever pterosaur fossil found in B.C.

The pterosaur was a flying reptile and one of the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight.

Researchers from the University of Southampton confirmed the identification and published their results Wednesday in Royal Society Open Science.

"It's satisfying," MacLachlan told All Points West host Robyn Burns. "Everything in due course. Science is a slow process, as it should be, in order for everything to be meticulously dealt with."

MacLachlan's specimen, discovered in 2008, spent years being analyzed by various experts.

During those years, a pterosaur fossil was thought to have been discovered in 2011, but subsequent research now suggests it is a type of fish.

MacLachlan says Hornby Island is a "grab bag of little gemstones" when it comes to Upper Cretaceous fossils — 66 to 100 million years ago — and he expects he will be going back there soon to look for more specimens.

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West


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