Pterodactyls in Japan Hung Out With Birds

Five well-preserved trackways found in Japan reveal a relatively small pterosaur with hook-like claws on each foot.

THE GIST:

- The world's first known pterosaur tracks from Japan have been found.

- Scientists think the pterosaurs gathered to eat near a Cretaceous Era pond or lake.

- Bird tracks were also identified, suggesting that pterosaurs and birds might have enjoyed a relatively peaceful coexistence.

The world's first pterosaur tracks from Japan, documented in a new study, suggest these Dinosaur-Age flying reptiles not only coexisted with birds, but that the two groups also hung out together when they weren't soaring the Cretaceous skies.

A lone siltstone slab contains the fossilized footprints, made by pterosaurs, birds and amphibians. It provides a literal slice of what prehistoric life was like in Japan around 127 million years ago.

"I think that a group of small pterosaurs was feeding together near a pond or near a lake," lead author Yuong-Nam Lee told Discovery News, adding "there are lots of feeding beak marks."

Lee, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, thinks "there were probably abundant food (sources) in the sediments" of what is now the Kitadani Dinosaur Quarry at Fukui Prefecture, Japan.

The quarry is well named, as the remains of several dinosaurs, such as Fukuiraptor kitadaniensis and Fukuisaurus tetoriensis, have been found at the site. A new, as-of-yet unnamed dromaeosaurid and a new sauropod were also recently excavated at the quarry, which is on the Sugiyama River within the city limits of Katsuyama. Remains of now-extinct fishes, turtles and relatives of crocodiles were discovered there too.

The world's first pterosaur tracks from Japan, documented in a new study, suggest these Dinosaur-Age flying reptiles not only coexisted with birds, but that the two groups also hung out together when they weren't soaring the Cretaceous skies.

A lone siltstone slab contains the fossilized footprints, made by pterosaurs, birds and amphibians. It provides a literal slice of what prehistoric life was like in Japan around 127 million years ago.

"I think that a group of small pterosaurs was feeding together near a pond or near a lake," lead author Yuong-Nam Lee told Discovery News, adding "there are lots of feeding beak marks."

Lee, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, thinks "there were probably abundant food (sources) in the sediments" of what is now the Kitadani Dinosaur Quarry at Fukui Prefecture, Japan.

The quarry is well named, as the remains of several dinosaurs, such as Fukuiraptor kitadaniensis and Fukuisaurus tetoriensis, have been found at the site. A new, as-of-yet unnamed dromaeosaurid and a new sauropod were also recently excavated at the quarry, which is on the Sugiyama River within the city limits of Katsuyama. Remains of now-extinct fishes, turtles and relatives of crocodiles were discovered there too.

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