Newly classified pterosaur was one of history’s largest flying animals

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Scientists have reclassified the remains of an ancient type of flying reptile which they describe as among the largest of its kind.

The pterosaur has a wingspan of up to 10 metres and lived during the Cretaceous period around 77 million years ago.

Bones from the animal were found in the Canadian province of Alberta 30 years ago.

They included a skeleton with part of the wings, legs, neck and a rib.

The main skeleton is from a young animal with a wingspan of about 5 metres but one giant neck bone from another specimen suggests an adult animal would have a wingspan of around 10 metres.

Bone from the middle of the neck of cryodrakon boreas. Pic: David Hone

It had been assumed that they belonged to the quetzalcoatlus, a type of pterosaur which had already been discovered in the US.

A study by Queen Mary University of London, however, has found that the remains belong to a new species – the cryodrakon boreas.

The right humerus (upper arm bone) of cryodrakon boreas. Pic: David Hone

Dr David Hone, lead author of the study from Queen Mary University of London, said: “This is a cool discovery.

“We knew this animal was here but now we can show it is different to other azhdarchids and so it gets a name.

“It is great that we can identify cryodrakon as being distinct to quetzalcoatlus as it means we have a better picture of the diversity and evolution of predatory pterosaurs in North America.”

The study, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, says the cryodrakon boreas was carnivorous and ate mostly small animals such as lizards, mammals and even baby dinosaurs.

They are likely to have been able to fly across huge oceans but experts think they lived mostly inland.

Credit: Sky News

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