Thu, June 30, 2022

international

Ancient massive 'Dragon of Death' flying reptile dug up in Argentina


Argentine researchers have discovered a new species of pterosaur, a flying reptile that coexisted with dinosaurs during the Cretaceous, a finding that provides information about these predatory vertebrates that could measure nine metres.

The palaeontological team discovered the remains of the so-called Thanatosdrakon amaru in sedimentary rocks from the Cretaceous period, at the end of the Mesozoic era - 86 million years ago - in the province of Mendoza, about 1,000 kilometres from Buenos Aires in the Andes Mountains.

"We are dealing with a new species of pterosaur. Why? Because all the characteristics we were able to see, many of them were new, they had not been recorded for any other pterosaur worldwide," Leonardo Ortiz David, leader of the research project, told Reuters Television on Zoom.

"We then proceeded to give it a new genus name and a new species name. We chose the genus Thanatosdrakon (...) It is the conjunction of two words. Thanatos is death and drakon is dragon. We thought it was appropriate to name it this way, since we are talking about a giant flying animal that was a predator. So it is the dragon of death," he added.

According to the researchers, the Thanatosdrakon is notable for the size of its bones, which shows that it is a giant specimen and is the largest pterosaur in South America and one of the largest in the world.

David said that pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to acquire the capacity for active flight, long before birds, as these had not appeared when this species of reptile was already flying, hunting, eating and reproducing.

"Pterosaurs offer us two possibilities when it comes to interpreting the faunas of the past. On the one hand, we can interpret that there are animals that were amazing. We don't have a current record of any close relative that has even a similar body modification to these beasts," said David.

Bernardo González Riga, the co-author of the research, said the Thanatosdrakon fossil bones were found in outcrops located in the south of Mendoza province, in rocks from the late Cretaceous Period, estimated to be 86 million years old.

The study on the new pterosaur was published in the prestigious scientific journal Cretaceous Research.

Published : May 24, 2022

By : Reuters