Flying Dragons Really Exist, Fossils Found in the Atacama Desert

 


The team of scientists identified the fossilized remains of a winged lizard unearthed in Chile's Atacama Desert as the first "flying dragon" of its kind found in the southern hemisphere.

The pterosaurs, which flew through the sky 160 million years ago, had a wingspan of 2 meters, a long and pointed tail, and teeth that protruded. The features of his body that make this Jurassic era creature nicknamed the scary "dragon".


Although the exact genus and species of winged lizard is unknown, scientists think it was a member of Rhamphorhynchinae, the subfamily rhamphorhynchoids, which is one of the two main types of pterosaurs (alongside pterodactyloids).



Compared to pterodactyloids, such as the genus pteranodon which includes species with a wingspan of more than 23 7 meters, Rhamphorhynchinae on average are smaller, have longer tails, and have fully toothed jaws, which they most likely use to catch fish and small marine mammals from the sea. . This discovery is the first time members of the subfamily Rhamphorhynchinae have been found below the equator.


"This discovery is very interesting. We are the first paleontologists to reveal the existence of the subfamily Rhamphorhynchinae in the Southern Hemisphere. Prior to this discovery, it was thought that these pterosaurs did not exist at this latitude," said Jhonatan Alarcón, a scientist from the University of Chile who led the investigation. , quoted from Live Science.


Osvaldo Rojas, director of the Atacama Desert Museum of Natural History, discovered the fossil in 2009. Rojas split open the desert rock that intrigued him and found fossilized ancient reptile bones that had long been preserved inside. An analysis by Alarcón revealed the presence of ancient remains belonging to an unknown species in the subfamily Rhamphorhynchinae.


How the remains of the reptile ended up so far south, in northern Chile, resting on the sands of the driest place on Earth, is still much speculation.


"We can't say that this pterosaur was a migratory species. But the discovery shows that at least one member of Rhamphorhynchinae spread from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere," said Alarcón.


When the ancient winged lizards were alive, much of the southern hemisphere's land mass was part of a supercontinent called Gondwana, which formed after the larger supercontinent Pangea split in two.


Alarcón speculates that Chile's flying dragon could drift south from the northern supercontinent Laurasia to Gondwana. Since some members of Rhamphorhynchinae have also been found along the coast of modern Cuba, the Chilean dragon could have followed the southern coast.


"Probably following the shoreline so it's not too far from the food," he said.


In the next step, the researchers will carefully extract the final pieces of the fossil that remain trapped in the rock. Later, they plan to make further comparisons between their Pterosaurs and others in the same subfamily. They hope that by doing so, they can find out if Pterosaurs were an entirely new species.

Flying Dragons Really Exist, Fossils Found in the Atacama Desert Flying Dragons Really Exist, Fossils Found in the Atacama Desert Reviewed by thecekodok on 8:43:00 PM Rating: 5
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