The most significant pterosaur fossil ever discovered in Australia has been unearthed in the Winton area of central western Queensland.
The newly discovered species, which was named Ferrodraco lentoni, had a wingspan of about 4 metres (13 feet). It lived around 96 million years ago, and was surprisingly similar to other pterosaurs from England, suggesting that these huge flying reptiles could traverse the globe with relative ease.
Pterosaurs are quite rare in the fossil record, as their bones are hollow and the outer bone in most instances is only 1 millimetre thick. Only 15 pterosaur specimens have ever been scientifically described from Australia, many of them incomplete.
Until recently, only two species of Australian pterosaur had been described: Mythunga camara and Aussiedraco molnari, both based on fossil skull fragments.
Although more complete fossils of similar pterosaurs are known from Brazil and China, until this discovery, our understanding of the pterosaurs that lived in Australia during the Cretaceous period was limited.
The new pterosaur specimen, unveiled in the journal Scientific Reports, includes a partial skull, five partial neck vertebrae, and bones from both the left and right wings.
A Swinburne PhD candidate has examined the fossilised bones of a newly discovered winged reptile. @AdelePentland is leading the research team investigating Ferrodraco lentoni – a 96 million year old pterosaur https://t.co/BHNm1YjRnb #swinburneresearch pic.twitter.com/UwNfebHytD
— Swinburne University of Technology (@Swinburne) October 4, 2019