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The pterosaur Dearc sgiathanach flies through the Jurassic skies of what is now Scotland. (Image credit: Natalia Jagielska)

During low tide on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, a graduate student hunting for dinosaur bones looked down at the coastal rocks and made the discovery of a lifetime: the remains of the largest pterosaur on record from the Jurassic period.

Since collecting the specimen in 2017 — an eventful excavation that involved cutting out the pterosaur chunks with diamond-tipped saws and almost losing the fossil when the tide returned — researchers have studied its anatomy and determined that it’s a previously unknown species. They gave the beast the Scottish Gaelic name Dearc sgiathanach (jark ski-an-ach), a double meaning of “winged reptile” and “reptile from Skye,” as Skye’s Gaelic name (An t-Eilean Sgitheanach) means “the winged isle.” 

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