A new rare species becomes the latest member of the pterosaur family with a staggering 23-foot wingspan. About 105 million years ago, a giant winged reptile towered over present-day Australia. The creature is the newest member of the extinct clade called pterosaurs and is the largest flying reptile on the continent, according to a new study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
The pterosaur species was discovered in northwestern Queensland from the Cretaceous era and dates back to about 110 million years.
“It’s the closest thing we have to a real-life dragon; it would have been a fearsome beast, with a spear-shaped mouth and twenty-foot wingspan,” explains Tim Richards, a co-author of the study.
In addition to a wingspan measuring as long as a school bus, the dinosaur had a 3-foot-long head and around 40 sharp teeth, perfect for grabbing fish and small dinosaurs to eat.
Huge Flying Dinosaur Discovered In Australia
Researchers found the front part of a lower jaw at the site that was found by fossil hunter Len Shaw, who gave the creature its name.
The jaw is now on display at Kronosaurus Korner, as part of a museum tour through western Queensland dedicated to Australia’s dinosaur age discoveries. It is an area that has provided some of the best Cretaceous marine fossils in Australia.
Pterosaurs are particularly intriguing because they were the first vertebrates to master flight, soaring above their dinosaur cousins on the ground. Some pterosaurs existed as little as 66 million years ago, but others date back 250 million years.
The most curious thing about this case is that it is the third type of species found in the Australian area, giving much place to the fact that, for the most part, flying dinosaurs populated this area more than any other.