Largest flying animal in history identified

New reptile species was one of largest ever flying animals

Pterosaur with a 32-foot wingspan and 550lbs body was 'one of the biggest aerial creatures EVER'

Writing in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the researchers described the new find as Cryodrakon boreas, from the azhdarchid group of pterosaurs.

The pterosaur's bones have been known to scientists for almost three decades, but it has only now been confirmed as its own genus. In other words, a flying reptile. Having lived during the Cretaceous period approximately 77m years ago, this creature may have been among the largest ever flying animals with a wingspan of 10 metres.

Paleontologists had assumed assumed that the fossils belonged to a pterosaur called Quetzalcoatlus northropi, study coauthor Dave Hone, a paleontologist at Queen Mary University of London, told National Geographic.

Despite the fact that the remains-comprising of a skeleton that has part of the wings, legs, neck and a rib-were initially assigned to Quetzalcoatlus, investigation of this and additional material revealed throughout the years demonstrates it is a different species in light of the growing comprehension of azhdarchid diversity.

Researchers have discovered the remains of an ancient, flying reptile that may have been one of the largest airborne creatures ever. The skeleton found is from a young animal that has a wingspan of about 5 meters. Full-grown, the ancient lizard would have weighed about 250 kilograms - slightly more than a full-grown pony, according to researchers.

New reptile species was one of largest ever flying animals
Why newly-discovered dinosaur remains have 'cool' Game of Thrones link

The invention could sound like one thing out of Westeros, however "Game of Thrones" followers should not get too excited: In line with researchers, Cryodrakon regarded much less like Daenerys Targaryen's fire-breathing dragons than it did a giraffe-size, reptilian stork.

Scientists estimate that, like its relatives, Cryodrakon boreas preyed on lizards, mammals and baby dinosaurs, but differences in its anatomy suggest the species may have behaved differently than its relatives. Even though they had the wing capacity to fly across oceans, the fossil record shows they stuck close to inland environments.

Despite their large size and a distribution across North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe, few azhdarchids are known from more than fragmentary remains.

Although the reptile was named in honour of the Albertan winter, "which can be stark and attractive but is very much cold and windy", Hone said, the environment during the Cretaceous period was much different.

"The azhdarchids had long legs and large feet that marked them as being a group that spent much more time on the ground than most other pterosaurs and we have some good tracks for them from Korea that shows they were adept walkers", Hone said.

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