(Mirror Daily, United States) – A team of researchers has recently stumbled upon the remnants of a huge flying creature which preyed upon smaller creatures about 70 million years ago. The fossils have been spotted in Mongolia, and likely belong to one of the largest animals of the kind which lived during that period.
The fossils belonged to a pterosaur
After a close analysis of the remains, researchers could tell they belonged to a pterosaur. This represented a group of reptiles which were able to fly, and lived during the same period as dinosaurs. Given their age, these reptiles were probably the first to fly among the vertebrates, and probably the biggest winged creatures which could also fly.
As soon as the Mongolian pterosaur was discovered, researchers were amazed by the impressive size of its neck bones. Therefore, judging from how big the remnants were, they could immediately tell the specimen belonged to this group of animals. The site of the discovery was the Nemegt Formation, a region in the Gobi Desert where many other dinosaur finds had occurred.
However, this was the first time when researchers discovered a pterosaur in the area. They had stumbled upon fossils of the animal in many other places, indicating its wide distribution over an extensive area 70 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period.
How big was this pterosaur?
The most remarkable and well-preserved parts of the fossil were the neck bones. This means it’s quite hard to estimate the exact dimensions of the creature. However, thanks to its footprint, researchers assumed the specimen must have been close in size to the biggest species which belonged to the pterosaur group.
The species in question, Hatzegopteryx and Quetzalcoatlus, reached about 36 feet when they spread their wings. Therefore, the Mongolian pterosaur must have been as big as a small plane, which is remarkable for a flying animal. However, researchers say that the animal could have actually been smaller, and the neck bones could have reached an abnormal size.