After a farmer in northeastern China picked a fossilized flying lizard out of the ground last year and sold it to a museum, paleontologists quickly noticed a broken wing – and an egg nestled next to the animal’s tail. The scientists dubbed the spectacular specimen “Mrs. T” – a contraction of “Mrs. Pterodactyl” – and are announcing her as the first prehistoric flier to be assigned a sex.

She provides vital clues to the mating habits of the creatures that ruled the skies for 150 million years before birds appeared.

David Unwin, a paleobiologist at the University of Leicester in England who studied the spectacularly preserved fossil, called it a “once-in-10 lifetimes” discovery. Unwin and colleagues published the finding Friday in the journal Science.

It’s a girl! … pterodactyl, that is, 1/20/11

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