Are you bored by dinosaurs? Then you’re in luck, my jaded friend: according to a new study published recently in ZooKeys, the Earth used to be ruled by Azhdarchidan pterosaurs–massive, toothless winged creatures named from the Persian word for dragon. Fuck yeah.
According to the new study, the variety of locations where Azhdarchidan remains have been discovered hint that the creatures dominated the skies worldwide throughout the Cretaceous period. The dragons are believed to have been the last of the pterosaurs, and, unlike their predecessors, were toothless (the better with which to emit giant gulps of fire, I’m presuming. In other news, someone at DreamWorks has access to a TARDIS).
Author of the study Dr Alexander Averianov explains,
This shift in dominance from toothed to toothless pterodactyloids apparently reflects some fundamental changes in Cretaceous ecosystems, which we still poorly understand [...] Azhdarchidae currently represent a real nightmare for paleontologists: most taxa are known from few fragmentary bones, which often do not overlap between named taxa, the few articulated skeletons are poorly preserved, and some of the best available material has remained undescribed for forty years.
Just in case Azhdarchidan’s awesome name alone doesn’t have you stoked, fossils show they were also some of the largest flying animals to ever exist, with wingspans between 10-12 meters. The dragons are thought to have been most common in lakes, rivers, beach environments, and anywhere that needed a pinch of magic.
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