Archaeologists have unearthed the 96-million-year-old fossilized skeleton of a pterosaur in a sheep farm in Australia.
According to the Independent, paleontologists believe the skeleton belonged to a winged lizard, one of the first vertebrates to fly.
The ancient pterosaurs in Australia had razor-sharp jaws.
Based on the results of the analysis of the fossil skeleton, archaeologists discovered that this creature used to have a span of 4 meters, a head length of 60cm, an elongated jaw with razor-sharp teeth.
“Based on comparisons with other pterosaurs, we can conclude that this creature was a winged predator,” said Adele Pentland, a paleontologist at Swinburne University in Australia. The scientists then reconstructed the creature’s shape through CT scans.
The researchers named this winged lizard Ferrodraco from Latin, meaning “iron dragon”.
Bob Elliot, a sheep farmer, dug up a fossilized skeleton in Winton, Queensland. Elliot immediately informed the local museum, volunteering to excavate the farm site to find more fossils.
The fossil is now on display at a dinosaur museum in Australia.
Pentland helped summarize the findings on the farm and published the information in a scientific journal. Pentland says this winged reptile lived in Winton 96 million years ago. “96 million years ago, the area was all coniferous forest with floodplains and networks of rivers.”
“The forest is also home to long-necked dinosaurs, carnivorous dinosaurs and many other dinosaurs,” Pentland said. Notably, the tyrannosaur Tyrannosaurus also lived here.
There are currently about 15 long-necked dinosaur fossils found in Australia. In the latest discovery, scientists found 30 fossil bones of the “iron dragon”.
The fossil is currently on display at the dinosaur museum in Australia.
David Elliott, co-founder of the museum, says the find is one of the most worthwhile additions.
“The Winton site contains a wealth of dinosaur fossils, and the appearance of giant pterosaurs is remarkable for science, education and tourism,” Elliott said.