Researchers found a “scary dragon” flying over the Queensland outback northwest of Richmond

   

Australia’s largest flying reptile has been uncovered, a pterosaur with an estimated seven-metre wingspan that soared like a dragon above the ancient, vast inland sea once covering much of outback queensland.

University of Queensland PhD candidate Tim Richards, from the Dinosaur Lab in UQ’s School of Biological Sciences, led a research team that analysed a fossil of the creature’s jaw, discovered on Wanamara Country, near Richmond in North West Queensland.

“It’s the closest thing we have to a real life dragon,” Mr Richards said.

“The new pterosaur, which we named Thapunngaka shawi, would have been a fearsome beast, with a spear-like mouth and a wingspan around seven metres.

“It was essentially just a skull with a long neck, bolted on a pair of long wings.

“This thing would have been quite savage.

“It would have cast a great shadow over some quivering little dinosaur that wouldn’t have heard it until it was too late.”

Mr Richards said the skull alone would have been just over one metre long, containing around 40 teeth, perfectly suited to grasping the many fishes known to inhabit Queensland’s no-longer-existent Eromanga Sea.

The largest flying reptile fossil ever discovered

“It’s tempting to think it may have swooped like a magpie during mating season, making your local magpie swoop look pretty trivial – no amount of zip ties would have saved you.

“Though, to be clear, it was nothing like a bird, or even a bat – Pterosaurs were a successful and diverse group of reptiles – the very first back-boned animals to take a stab at powered flight.”

The new species belonged to a group of pterosaurs known as anhanguerians, which inhabited every continent during the latter part of the Age of Dinosaurs.

Being perfectly adapted to powered flight, pterosaurs had thin-walled and relatively hollow bones.

Given these adaptations their fossilised remains are rare and often poorly preserved.

“It’s quite amazing fossils of these animals exist at all,” Mr Richards said.

“By world standards, the Australian pterosaur record is poor, but the discovery of Thapunngaka contributes greatly to our understanding of Australian pterosaur diversity.”

It is only the third species of anhanguerian pterosaur known from Australia, with all three species hailing from western Queensland.

Simulate the teeth of the largest flying reptile fossil

Dr Steve Salisbury, co-author on the paper and Mr Richard’s PhD supervisor, said what was particularly striking about this new species of anhanguerian was the massive size of the bony crest on its lower jaw, which it presumably had on the upper jaw as well.

“These crests probably played a role in the flight dynamics of these creatures, and hopefully future research will deliver more definitive answers,” Dr Salisbury said.

The fossil was found in a quarry just northwest of Richmond in June 2011 by Len Shaw, a local fossicker who has been ‘scratching around’ in the area for decades.

Researchers find a ‘scary dragon’ soaring through the Queensland outback

The name of the new species honours the First Nations peoples of the Richmond area where the fossil was found, incorporating words from the now-extinct language of the Wanamara Nation.

“The genus name, Thapunngaka, incorporates thapun [ta-boon] and ngaka [nga-ga], the Wanamara words for ‘spear’ and ‘mouth’, respectively,” Dr Salisbury said.

“The species name, shawi, honours the fossil’s discoverer Len Sh

Related Posts

Exploring the Hollow Earth Theory: Are Aliens Living Beneath Us?-davinci

In the annals of fringe science and conspiracy theories, few ideas have captured the public’s imagination as thoroughly as the Hollow Earth hypothesis. The notion that our…

Incredible Discovery Unveiled in Egypt’s Remote Desert.-davinci

Exploriпg the vast expaпses of Egypt’s remote desert has υпveiled remarkable treasυres, sparkiпg awe aпd fasciпatioп amoпg adveпtυrers aпd historiaпs alike. The discoveries made iп these arid…

Revealiпg the mystery of the υпderwater UFO base iп Alaska, the secrets beпeath the waves are searched aпd aпalyzed by hυmaпs.-davinci

The icy waters off the coast of Alaska have loпg beeп a hotspot for straпge aпd υпexplaiпed pheпomeпa, bυt receпt discoveries have takeп the mystery to a…

Compreheпsive trackiпg of UFO evideпce: From the depths of the oceaп to the vast sky.-davinci

The fasciпatioп with υпideпtified flyiпg objects (UFOs) has captivated hυmaпity for decades. With iпcreasiпg reports of straпge sightiпgs aпd υпexplaiпed pheпomeпa, the пeed for systematic trackiпg aпd…

Searching for giant Armadillos: An important chapter in the survival story of early America, leaving everyone extremely surprised.mariko

The search for giant armadillos, an elusive and fascinating species, has become a crucial chapter in the ongoing survival story of early America. The discovery and study…

HOT NEWS: recently appeared Mysterious discoveries from Egypt have confused archaeologists.mariko

In a startling turn of events, the archaeological landscape of Egypt has been turned on its head by a series of mystifying discoveries that have left experts…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *