It was nearly five years ago when a team of paleontologists discovered and photographed the fossil of an ancient reptile species called the pterosaur. And if that wasn’t cool enough, this was a flying reptile! Now, another team of paleontologists have unearthed fossils of a whole new species of pterosaurs, which has been dubbed “The Dragon of Death”! The ancient flying reptile was dated back to 86 million years ago, around the same time when dinosaurs roamed the planet.
The team led by paleontologist Leonard Ortiz discovered the fossils in Argentina, adding to the ever-growing knowledge of Earth’s earliest residents. This exciting discovery gives us a fresh perspective on this massive predator that existed eons ago and walked (and flew around) the same Earth as us.
This new species of pterosaur has been estimated to be about 9 meters in length, which is the same size as a small bus! Scientists have also said that The Dragon of Death even pre-dated birds, and was actually one of the first animals on Earth to use flight to hunt their prey!
The team that discovered the fossils have decided to call this new species something special and memorable. After all, when you find an ancient flying reptile that is the size of a school bus, you want to make sure it gets the recognition it deserves!
Based on the unique characteristics of this new species, Ortiz knew the name would have to be something unique. The team wanted to make sure that when people heard the name, they were picturing the ancient reptile in all its glory.
They also knew they were required to find a new genus and species name due to the creature’s extremely unique and new characteristics. After keeping everything in mind, the team chose the name Thanatosdrakon amar. The name is a combination of two Greek words, Thanatos, which stands for ‘death’ and ‘drakon’ which means dragon.
We are sure you can already guess what the name is! When translated, the name means “The Dragon of Death.” Ortiz and his team said that they strongly feel that the name is appropriate given the unique features of the fossils. They also mentioned that if The Dragon of Death was alive today, it would be a very frightening sight indeed. We absolutely agree with them!
Fossils of the Pterosaur were found in the Andes mountains in the western Mendoza province of Argentina. After analyzing the rocks from around where the fossils were found, scientists know that the reptile belonged to the Cretaceous Period (approx, 145 million – 66 million years ago) o. This tells us that the ancient flying reptile species had already been alive for more than 20 million years before three-quarters of life on Earth was wiped out by the massive asteroid that hit 66 million years ago. Scientists have given estimates that they first appeared during the Triassic period, which is about 215 million years before the extinction event that occurred at the end of the Cretaceous period.
This particular Pterosaur species is among one of the largest ever found in the world. It has also been officially classified as the largest pterosaur discovered yet on the Southern America continent. The lead paleontologist has said that they have not found any close match or relatives of the new species.
You can call Pterosaurs cousins to the dinosaurs! They are closely related, but not the same. They also have a pretty cool connection to birds and other flying animals today. According to scientists, Pterosaurs are the first vertebrates to fly, and they did it long before the birds and bats came around! They can be put in the same league as birds because of their ability to fly, but they are actually cold-blooded reptiles.
The Dragon of Death does not seem to have had any rivals in the sky! They ruled the planet easily because of their flying prowess and colonized all continents. According to scientists, this helped them evolve into many shapes and sizes. The smallest ever Pterosaur has been measured to be the size of a sparrow, while the largest is a 12-meter long pterosaur (that’s wider than an F-16 fighter jet!)
How cool is it to think that way back in the day, the Earth had such mighty and powerful beasts flying the skies! These ancient flying creatures were beautiful in their grandness, and would have been just as terrifying to witness!
What did you find coolest about The Dragon of Death? Let us know in the comments. And if you’d like to read more stories like these, make sure to tell us in the comments so we keep writing about mighty creatures like the pteroasur, and much more!
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