The remains of a giant flying reptile found in Alberta, Canada, three decades ago have been identified as a new genus and species of pterosaur.
Until now, palaeontologists had assumed that it belonged to the species Quetzalcoatlus, which was discovered in Texas, US.
However, after analysing other materials collected over the years, researchers led by Queen Mary University of London, UK, have determined that this was in fact something completely new – and named it Cryodrakon boreas, which means “cold dragon of the north winds”.
“This is a cool discovery; we knew this animal was here but now we can show it is different to other azhdarchids and so it gets a name,” says lead author David Hone.
Different, but every bit as big.
The main skeleton is from a young animal with a wingspan of about five metres but one giant neck bone from another specimen suggests an adult animal would have a wingspan of around 10 metres – which would have made it among the largest ever flying animals, the researchers say.
Their study is published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology.