Project leader Leonardo Ortiz said the fossil’s never-before-seen characteristics required a new genus and species name (Credits: Reuters)
Argentine scientists have discovered a new species of huge flying reptile that lived alongside the dinosaurs.
Dubbed the ‘Dragon of Death’, the creature would have soared through the skies around 86 millions years ago.
According to estimations, its body length would have been around 30-foot long, nearly the size of an average London double decker bus.
Known as a pterosaur, it likely predated birds and would have been one of the first creatures on Earth to use wings to hunt prey from the sky.
The team of paleontologists discovered the fossils in the Andes mountains in Argentina’s western Mendoza province.
They have named the creature: Thanatosdrakon amaru.
They found that the rocks preserving the reptile’s remains dated back 86 million years to the Cretaceous period.
An artist’s impression of what the Dragon of Death may have looked like (Credits: National University of Cuyo)
The estimated date means these fearsome flying reptiles lived at least some 20 million years before an asteroid impact on what is now Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula wiped out about three-quarters of life on the planet about 66 millions years ago.
Project leader Leonardo Ortiz said in an interview over the weekend that the fossil’s never-before-seen characteristics required a new genus and species name, with the latter combining ancient Greek words for death (thanatos) and dragon (drakon).
‘It seemed appropriate to name it that way,’ said Ortiz.
‘It’s the dragon of death.’
Leonardo Ortiz works on excavation of bones and fossils belonging to Thanatosdrakon amaru in Aguada del Padrillo, Argentina (Credits: Reuters)
The reptile would likely have been a frightening sight.
Researchers, who published their study last April in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research, said the fossil’s huge bones classify the new species as the largest pterosaur yet discovered in South America and one of the largest found anywhere.
‘We don’t have a current record of any close relative that even has a body modification similar to these beasts,’ said Ortiz.