Pterosaurs, the first flying vertebrates that lived between 66-228 million years ago, went extinct around the end of the Cretaceous period. To help make it easier to understand where they lived, Matthew McLain at Loma Linda University has worked with come colleagues to put together PteroTerra, a Google Earth-powered database of pterosaurs.
An article on CBS News explains why McLain is tackling this project:
“Anybody can just pull this up really fast — the point being that you’d be able to plot where all these different specimens are on Earth, and you might be able to see if there was any sort of trend that maybe we haven’t noticed,” McLain said.
McLain said that other paleontologists have approached him to discuss starting databases for other ancient beasts, like the marine plesiosaur. He would like to create a database of dinosaur footprints and trackways, as a way to get a broader geographical view of dino travel.
To see the data for yourself, visit the PteroTerra website. The map page will give you a good overview, and then you can download the KML file to view all of the data in Google Earth.
Great work, Matthew!