The ‘savage’ flying relative of dinosaurs was discovered in Australia as a dragon-like monster.

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The ‘savage’ flying relative of dinosaurs was discovered in Australia as a dragon-like monster.

PALAEONTOLOGISTS from the University of Queensland in Australia have discovered the bones of a dragon-like creature that swam through the skies millions of years ago.

The Thapunngaka shawi, as it has been dubbed, is the largest flying reptile yet discovered in Australia. Researchers believe this is the closest palaeontologists will ever go to uncovering a real-life dragon, with a wingspan of 22 feet (7 meters) and 40 rows of razor-sharp teeth. Once upon a time, a large inland sea covered outback Australia, and the prehistoric pterosaur would have soared through the skies above it.

Local Len Shaw discovered the pterosaur’s fossilized jaw in a quarry in Wanamara Country, near Richmond in North West Queensland, in June 2011.

Tim Richards, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland’s Dinosaur Lab, examined the fossil.

“It’s the closest thing we have to a real-life dragon,” the palaeontologist remarked.

“With a spear-like mouth and a wingspan of roughly seven metres, the new pterosaur, which we called Thapunngaka shawi, would have been a terrifying beast.

“It was basically simply a skull with a long neck and a set of long wings bolted to it.

“This would have been a nasty beast.

“It would have cast a long shadow over some frightened small dinosaurs who wouldn’t have realized they were approaching until it was too late.”

The skull alone would have been about three feet (one metre) long, and it was the ideal instrument for catching enormous fish in the since-gone Eromanga Sea.

Pterosaurs, also known as flying dinosaurs, were a distant relative of dinosaurs.

The renowned Pterodactyl was among this frightening group of winged reptiles.

Pterosaurs are not classified as birds, dinosaurs, or even flying mammals because they flew with their front limbs spread out on their sides.

Pterosaurs are known for being among the first animals to develop the capacity to fly.

They were, however, nothing like the bats or birds of today, according to Mr Richards.

“Pterosaurs were a successful and diverse group of reptiles, the very first back-boned animals to try powered flight,” he said.

The recently discovered Thapunngaka shawi belongs to the anhanguerians, a pterosaur family.

Between 245 and 66 million years ago, Anhanguerians lived on almost every continent during the Age of Dinosaurs.

The winged monsters had perfected their ability to fly. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”

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