Recent discoveries in Argentina have led to the identification of fossilized bones belonging to a massive flying reptile that has been given the name “The Dragon of Death” by experts.
The wingspan of this predatory creature, which lived around 86 million years ago, stretched an astounding nine meters (30 feet) when completely extended. In an interview with the BBC, the scientist who made the discovery described the reptile as being a “terrifying sight” due to its enormous size.
According to Leonardo Ortiz, the head of the investigation, “This species had a height comparable to that of a giraffe,” and its wingspan “defies the limits of our biological understanding.”
The remains of the flying species had been preserved in rocks in the Andes highlands for 86 million years, which indicates that it lived in the same period of prehistory as dinosaurs.
Over the course of an excavation that took place in Argentina in 2012, Professor Ortiz was one of the paleontologists who made the first discovery of its remains.
Thanatosdrakon combines the Greek words for death and dragon into a single noun, and
Thanatosdrakon amaru was the name he decided to give to the species. “It seemed appropriate to name it that way,” stated Ortiz, “it’s the dragon of death”
The name of the species, “amaru,” comes from the indigenous Quechuan language and means “flying serpent.” It is a reference to Amaru, an Incan god with two heads.
According to the findings of the researchers, the Dragon of Death is a member of the azhdarchid family, which is a group of pterosaurs that existed at the end of the Cretaceous era (about 146 million to 66 million years ago).
“Azhdarchids were known for their very large skulls—sometimes larger than their bodies—as well as their hyper-elongated necks and short, robust bodies,” Ortiz explained to Live Science via email.
The pterosaur fossil was also ranked as the largest fossil ever found in South America and as one of the largest fossils ever discovered anywhere in the world by researchers.
Pterosaurs are difficult to categorize since they were cold-blooded predators, even though scientists have placed them in the same category as birds because they were able to fly. It is thought that pterosaurs dominated over all of the continents and developed into a wide variety of forms and sizes because they had no competitors in the sky.
The fossils were discovered during excavations for a civil construction project around 500 miles (800 kilometers) outside of Mendoza, capital city of the region also called Mendoza.
During the time that Ortiz and his colleagues were overseeing the excavation, they came upon fossil pieces that were buried within floodplain sediments.
Among paleontologists, Mendoza is well-known for other significant dinosaur finds, notably the discovery of the huge sauropod Notocolossus in 2016. Notocolossus is one of the biggest dinosaurs in the world. Mendoza is also the location of Aconcagua, which is the tallest peak in the Americas.