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Remains of a “flying dragon” discovered in Australia

The same paleontologists who discovered and studied it called it the “Flying Dragon”. And indeed, it must have been very frightening when (about 110 million years ago) it flew over Australia, since at that time there was a large inland sea covering much of Queensland.

Wings of seven meters. This flying reptile, with a wingspan of about seven metres, was discovered by Tim Richards, a researcher in the Dinosaur Laboratory of the Australian University’s School of Biological Sciences: The researcher came to reconstruct the giant bird after finding a series of fossil remains, in June 2011, in a quarry northwest of Richmond .

Once assembled, the remains led to the identification of a new species of pterodatilo who was named Shawy Thapunngaka The results of which were published in the scientific journal Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. What made this “dragon” particularly fearsome was above all the large head, connected, through a long neck, with very long wings. The skull alone was probably more than a meter long.

Thapunngaka shawi was certainly a predator: it had 40 sharp teeth and, from its structure, supposedly pounced on the animals it preyed on. Richards says the prey had a hard time sensing its silent presence in the sky and when they did, it was too late to escape.

Flight control. Very special is the massive bony crest that was located in the lower jaw and perhaps also the upper: an element that may have had a role in “flight control”, but whose function is not entirely clear at the moment.

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Shawei belonged to the group of “Anhaguerians”, a family of pterosaurs that spread at that time on all continents and that evolved to be able to fly perfectly: this can be inferred from the spines that were particularly suitable for more complex maneuvers and above all to “swoop “. They also have very thin and light bones to allow them to fly more efficiently in the air.

Earl Warner

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