Australia’s largest pterosaur discovered

Appearing as early as the Triassic period, about 225 million years ago, pterosaurs occupied the air until the end of the Cretaceous period, 66 million years ago, when they appeared at the same time as dinosaurs and many other land and marine species. had died. While many of them corresponded to small animals with a wingspan of one meter, some reached impressive dimensions. it is a matter This new flying reptile whose remains were found queensland in Australia.

Australia’s largest pterosaur

The animal’s fossil, which boils down to a fragment of the lower jaw, was discovered in 2011 in the area of Wanamara near Richmond in North West Queensland. It was then analyzed Tim Richards of the University of Queensland and his team who published their results in the journal Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Their study concluded that the bone corresponds to a new species, called Thapungaka Shavi. A discovery that fills a gap in the case of pterosaur fossils in Australia, which are in small numbers compared to records from other regions of the world. Fewer than twenty were actually found there.

thaapungka savi Which lived between 110 and 100 million years ago, had a wingspan of 7 meters, making it Australia’s largest pterosaur. It is also characterized by a skull at least one meter long with the presence on the lower jaw of a large bony crest. This may have been an adaptation for flight, to make the animal’s silhouette more aerodynamic. In this case, it is likely that the upper jaw, which is not found, is also equipped with it.

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The grand size of a pterosaur discovered in Australia. Credits: Tim Richards.

fish eater

When he lived, at the beginning of the Cretaceous, thaapungka savi can fly over a vast inland sea, Sea of ​​Eromanga, Its jaws, equipped with about forty teeth, completely erased today, seem well suited for a diet composed mainly of fish, which were plentiful to live in this expanse of water, as evidenced by fossils found in the area. It cannot be ruled out that it may also attack other prey on Earth but nothing can confirm this.

The identification of this fossil indicates that Australian pterosaurs may have competed in size with other continents, where the largest of them cryodracon bags Can reach a wingspan of more than 10 meters. The presence of a large circular ridge, the largest known in this group of pterosaurs, also suggests a Local diversification of pterosaur species around the Sea of ​​Eromanga. However, we will need to find more fossils to better understand the evolution of pterosaurs in Australia.

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