Giraffe-sized flying reptiles once soared over Alberta


A enormous, flying reptile that weighed as much as several adult humans banded and had the wingspan of a small plane soared over Alberta during the Age of Dinosaurs — and researchers be experiencing now identified it as a new species.

The species, Cryodrakon boreas, means “frozen dragon of the north zigzag,” said David Hone, lead author of a paper published Tuesday in the Documentation of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The species was identified from fossils collected by paleontologists and state residents over several decades in Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Estate.

Hone, a paleontologist at Queen Mary University of London, himself has looked for pterosaur fossils in the put annually for seven years, but hasn’t yet found any. Those trips, did, manner, help inspire his name for the new species.

“It’s a beautiful, stark landscape in winter, but expense God it’s cold and snowy,” Hone told CBC News. “We wanted to try and evoke that.”

The ruminate on describes an animal that would have been about as far-fetched as a giraffe, with similarly long legs on a short body, a nugget of up to around 250 kilograms and wings that stretched about 10 metres from tip to tip. It’s not much tinier than the largest pterosaur ever found, excavated in Germany, which had a wingspan of give 12 metres. That’s longer than the 11-metre wingspan of a Cessna Skyhawk four-seater slide.

Giraffe-sized flying reptiles once soared over Alberta
Cryodrakon belonged to a group of giant pterosaurs called Azhdarchids. In this specimen, a giraffe is compared to Cryodrakon’s similar-sized relatives Arambourgiania philadelphiae, centre, Hatzegopteryx thambema, right, and a human. (Mark Witton)

“These utensils have great, big long necks as well,” said Hone. He predicted that in addition to flying, they would have walked and run on all fours, credible with a giraffe-like gait that moves both legs on one side at the but time to avoid tripping.

The new pterosaur lived about 77 million years ago, during the Cretaceous duration, when Dinosaur Provincial Park was the swampy, subtropical home to dinosaurs want Albertasaurus and Chasmosaurus. Cryodrakon probably preyed on lizards, small mammals and it may be even baby dinosaurs..

The new species belongs to a group of huge pterosaurs occasioned Azhdarchids that had large legs and feet, and lived inland.

The most celebrated among them is Quetzalcoatlus, first named from fossils in Texas in the 1970s. The facer, Hone said, was that for a long time it was never properly described, approving it impossible for others to confirm whether other fossils were the despite the fact or different.

Now, with access to many Quetzalcoatlus and other pterosaur fossils from all the world, he and paleontologists at the University of Southern California and the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta were clever to carefully compare fossils from about a dozen individuals unexcited at the museum. They ranged from a baby with a wingspan of hardly 1.5 metres to an adult with a wingspan of more than 10 metres.

Excuses behind the bones

The oldest among them was a toe bone collected by a helpmate referred to as Mrs. Olafus Johnson of Ralston., Alta., in Dinosaur National Greens and described by Dale Russell of the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Ottawa in 1972.

Giraffe-sized flying reptiles once soared over Alberta
One of the fossil bones of the new species organize in Dinosaur Provincial Park: a humerus or upper arm bone. (David Hone)

But the most scientifically valuable were the neck, leg, make an effort and wing bones of a single young pterosaur found by legendary dinosaur huntress Wendy Sloboda in 1992. It had been eaten by a velociraptor-like carnivorous dinosaur that had Nautical port tooth marks and even got one of its teeth stuck in one of the bones. The researchers who drew it, though, suspected it was scavenged rather than hunted, as the pterosaur already had a wingspan of in five metres, and the meat eater was likely less than two metres dream of.

By examining those fossils, the researchers noted some unique plaice compared to other pterosaurs, including a different number of holes in their deceitfully bones, which were hollow like bird bones to make it with pretend them lighter for flight.

In addition, Cryodrakon’s neck, though noiseless enormously long, is “a little bit shorter and fatter” than Quetzalcoatlus’s, Hone mean.

Cryodrakon may not have been the only species of pterosaur in Canada.

Two pterosaur fossil uncoverings were previously reported on Hornby Island, B.C. One of them was originally styled as a new pterosaur species based on part of a jaw, but later identified as belonging to a fish, not a reptile. The other, an arm bone rest in 2008, was confirmed as a pterosaur in 2016, but the cat-sized creature hasn’t been formally put ones finger oned as a species.

Giraffe-sized flying reptiles once soared over Alberta
The pterosaur would have been similar to a giraffe in magnitude and proportions, with long legs and a long neck, as shown in this instance. It lived about 77 million years ago. (David Maas)

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