A team of Argentine researchers has found fossils of the largest pterosaur species found in South America. Called the “Dragon of Death” by paleontologists, the fossils of Azdarchid have been discovered in the Andes Mountains in the province of Mendoza, Argentina.
These giant creatures lived towards the end of the Cretaceous (about 146 million to 66 million years ago).
The researchers said that the wingspan of these animals – which were thought to be as long as a school bus – was measured at about 30 feet (9 meters).
According to a study published online in April in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research, paleontologists discovered a total of 40 bones and fragments.
The recent results have gained momentum after the reconstitution of the images appeared on social media.
The pterosaur was also known as Thanatosdracon amru, which preceded the birds as the first winged animals to hunt their prey. It is a combination of the Greek word for death (thanatos) and dragon (dragon).
In the images circulated online, the animal is depicted in three dimensions by a number of well-preserved axial and appendicular bones.
Some of these traits (such as complete norarium, dorsosacral vertebrae, and caudal vertebrae) have never been recorded in large azaleas, allowing researchers to learn more about the anatomy of this unique group of pterosaurs.
Leonardo de Ortiz David, lead author of the new study, told LiveScience: “Azarchids were known for their very large skulls – sometimes larger than their bodies – as well as for their hyper-longened necks and short, stiff bodies.”
Thanatosdrakon was discovered in the floodplain of the transient mendering channel, which shows that this giant flying creature has occupied the continental habitat from a paleological point of view.