A massive pterosaur has been discovered in the Gobi desert’s Nemegt Formation. According to experts publishing in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the huge, dragon-like monster would have lived and perished 70 million years ago, with a wingspan of 10 to 12 meters (32 to 39 feet). To give it in context, that’s a wingspan larger than the height of a three-story structure.
The species is a member of the Azhdarchidae family of pterosaurs that lived in the late Cretaceous epoch. Pterosaurs (such as the pterodactyl) are frequently mistaken for dinosaurs. Pterosaurs are flying reptiles, not birds, which are a form of dinosaur.
This specimen would have been located in what is now Mongolia’s dry interior region. Despite having wings, it could move on all fours and most likely followed its victims (who were most likely juvenile dinosaurs) on the ground.
In 2006, palaeontologists uncovered five remnants of the animal’s neck bones in the western Gobi area known as Gurilin Tsav. The region is well-known for its fossil riches, but these pterosaur remains are a rare find. Bones from massive pterosaur species have previously been discovered in Europe and North America. These relics demonstrate that they also inhabited in Asia.
The experts believe the latest discovery is also one of the biggest pterosaurs ever discovered, rivaling the size of its cousins the Quetzalcoatlus (discovered in Texas) and Hatzegopteryx (discovered in Romania). These monsters were likewise reported to have a wingspan of 10 to 12 meters. They are supposed to have been as tall as giraffes (roughly 5.5 meters or 18 feet).
The problem is that palaeontologists only have incomplete remains, making it difficult to precisely quantify the creature’s size and morphology. It’s possible that the neck bones are excessively large in comparison to the rest of the body, and that researchers exaggerated their size. It’s also possible that this specimen is smaller or bigger than the species average.
Unfortunately, pterosaur fossils are frequently fragmentary and poorly preserved since their bones were not as strong as dinosaurs’.
Because the bones are so fragmentary, the researchers have yet to identify the new species or even determine whether it is a new species. The discovery, however, demonstrates for the first time that there were massive pterosaurs wandering the Asian sky.