|The 120 million year old battle scene between the armoured fish Aspidorhynchus and the pterosaur Rhamphorhynchus|
Some fossils preserve a specific moment in time. A perfect example is the 100 million year old 'fighting dinosaurs' which consists of two complete and perfectly preserved dinosaurs locked in combat: a Velociraptor gripping a Protoceratops with its claws while the Protoceratops bites the leg of its assailant with its beak, protecting a nest full of its eggs. The couple were stuck together when they were buried by a sandstorm, preserving their conflict forever.
This new fossil also preserves a conflict between a pterosaur and an armoured fish in a toxic lake in Cretaceous era Germany. The pterosaur, Rhamphorhynchus, was probably flying low over the lake surface, hunting fish, when the giant armoured beast, Aspidorhynchus, leapt from the water, grabbing onto its wing membrane with its jaws. Fragments of the pterosaur species have been found within the jaws and stomachs of the fish.
|A close up of the fish's jaws clamped around the wing bone of the pterosaur|
The fossil itself is fantastic. As it is preserved in very fine grained limestone in a fashion similar to the world famous and museum quality fossils from the Solnhofen Plattenkalk which is not only in the same country, but the same region (Bavaria) where the remains were found. It was very well preserved with every scale of the fish and wing bones of the pterosaur present. Even the jaws of Aspidorhynchus were still clamped around the humerus of Rhamphorhynchus.
'These animals normally have nothing to do with each other,' said researcher Eberhard Frey, a palaeozoologist at the State Natural History Museum in Karlsruhe, Germany. 'Apparently these encounters were fatal for both of them.' These kinds of fossils are the most rare. Every body part is present, but the subject matter is of course most important, a single moment preserved in time for eternity, revealing the fundamental ways in which past ecosystems worked.