120-Million-Year-Old ‘Ghost Dragon’ Pterosaur Discovered in China
Paleontologists in northeast China have discovered a wildly snaggle-toothed skull that belonged to a previously unknown, 120-million-year-old flying reptile.
Named Guidraco venator, which is Chinese and Latin for “ghost dragon hunter,” the meat-eating pterosaur had a wingspan of between 13 and 16 feet. The basket of pointy teeth at the end of its foot-long skull probably helped it catch fish, and a round sail on its head may have stabilized flight.
“This is really an amazing fossil, but the funny thing to me is that it was found in Asia. It looks very similar but not identical to pterosaurs found in Brazil,” said Eberhard “Dino” Frey, a paleontologist at the State Museum of Natural History in Karlsruhe. Frey was not involved in the work, published online Feb. 22 in Naturwissenschaften.
The closest relative to G. venator may be a fossil Frey and his colleagues recovered in 2003, called Ludodactylus sibbicki, adding further evidence that now 40 known species of pterosaurs were more globally distributed than previously thought. “The longer we search, the more of these animals turn up,” Frey said.http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/02/guidraco-flying-dinosaur/