Winged dragon! New pterosaur discovered in Chile's Atacama Desert

Chilean paleontologists discovered, in the city of Calama, in the Atacama Desert, the preserved fossil of a pterosaur that lived there millions of years in the Jurassic period. The creature, a flying reptile and not a dinosaur, belongs to the subfamily Ramphorhynchinae and would have lived in the megacontinent of Gondwana, which today constitutes the continents of the Southern Hemisphere.

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With an elongated tail and sharp, pointy teeth, the animal measured about 1.8 meters to 2 meters from one wing tip to the other, and was possibly the largest in its family. It still had its head down, and a long, pointed muzzle. These characteristics caused researchers to classify the creature as a “winged dragon”.

Image: Reproduction/University of Chile

According to the analysis of the fossils found in 660, which consist of two pieces of the wing phalanx and a dorsal vertebra, if it was an adult pterosaur. Experts say that the flying reptile is quite similar to other pterosaurs in the subfamily, such as the European Rhamphorhynchus and the Cuban Nesodactylus. Although the region of Cerritos Bayos, where the animal was found, is already known for paleontological discoveries, it is the first pterosaur found in Chile. Some plesiosaurs, which were marine reptiles, have already been discovered there.

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The study with the discovery was published in the scientific journal Acta Palaeontologia Polonica.

Source: University of Chile

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