A new study has revealed that a terrifying dragon flew over Australia 105 million years ago.
The remains of a pterosaur with a wingspan of nearly seven meters, which may have been the largest flying reptile on the continent, have been excavated. The newly discovered species was given the scientific name Thapunngaka shawi.
The results of the studies were presented in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
The pterosaur may have flown over the Iromanga Inland Sea, which once covered much of the wasteland in present-day Queensland. With its spear-like beak, CNN wrote, it easily caught fish from the sea.
Experts, including Tim Richards, a scientist at the University of Queensland, studied a jaw fossil found in June 2011 by a gold miner named Lin Shuo in a quarry northwest of Richmond.
Richards said the pterosaur could be a “scary beast” that could eat even small dinosaurs. The expert said, “In fact, it was just a skull with a long neck, and a pair of long wings. It would have been very stiff.”
The species’ name is a tribute to the aborigines of the Richmond, Wanamaras region, in their language, Thapunnjaka actually means “spear mouth,” while Shawy retains the name of the researcher, Lynn Shu, co-author of Steve Salisbury said.
Scientists say that there was a huge bony rib in the lower jaw of the new species, probably in the upper jaw. “These markers played a role in the flight dynamics of these creatures, and we hope that more research will find a definitive answer to these questions,” Salisbury said.
The entire skull may be more than a meter long, with 40 teeth in the jaw. The new species is a member of the anhanguerians group of pterosaurs. Richards says pterosaurs were the first vertebrates that could fly so powerfully.
The bones of thin-walled pterosaurs were largely hollow, so they perfectly adapted to flight, but these bones did not stand the test of millions of years. That is why the discovery of such a fossil is especially rare.
The find is on display at the Kronosaurus Korner Museum in Richmond.