In a new paper in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research, researchers claim to have discovered the fossilized remains of a humongous pterosaur that may in fact be the largest flying vertebrate yet known.
Thanatosdrakon amaru gen. et sp. nov. is a new azhdarchid found in the upper-most levels of the Plottier Formation (upper Coniacian–lower Santonian, Neuquén Basin), Mendoza, Argentina. Two specimens were identified, the holotype (UNCUYO-LD 307) and the paratype, with an estimated wingspan of ∼7 m and ∼9 m, respectively.
Thanatosdrakon amaru is believed to predate birds, and might possibly be the first winged creature to hunt its prey. Hence its name, which basically translates to "Dragon of Death."
More from the BBC:
When fully extended, its wings measured a massive nine metres (30 ft) from one tip to the other.
The sheer size of the predator paints a "terrifying vision", the scientist behind the find told the BBC.
"This species had a height similar to that of a giraffe," project leader Leonardo Ortiz said, with a wingspan that "defies the limits of our biological understanding".
Its remains had been preserved in rocks in the Andes mountains for 86 million years, which means the flying creature lived alongside dinosaurs.
Thanatosdrakon amaru, gen. et sp. nov., a giant azhdarchid pterosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Argentina [Leonardo D.Ortiz David, Bernardo J.González Riga, Alexander W.A.Kellner / Cretaceous Research]
Flying reptile: Remains of scary prehistoric creature discovered [Leo Sands / BBC]