We are very proud to announce that our very own Dave Unwin has made the news today, with the announcement of his find, in collaboration with colleagues in China, of a new pterosaur (a flying dinosaur, for any non-paleontologists out there). And they didn't just dig up one of the fellas, but 20!
What's really exciting, is that this little chap, about the size of a crow, provides evidence of an aspect of evolution called modular evolution. *Warning... Science bit* In this case, we had fossils of earlier pterosaurs, with long tails, and later ones with short tails. You might expect that the intermediate pterosaur would have a medium tail, but in actual fact it still has the tail of its ancestors, while the body and head have evolved into the form we see in the later pterosaurs. So, basically, different bits of the pterosaurs are evolving at different rates. For anyone with a mad image of weirdly morphing flying dinos, don't forget that this takes a very, very, very long time!
Anyway, in celebration of the evidence provided for yet another aspect of the much maligned theory of evolution, the pterosaur has been given the name Darwinopterus. In Darwin year, this is only right and proper. Go Charles! and Go Dave!