Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Cryodrakon boreas: the largest flying animal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cryodrakon boreas

Mains level : Not Much

  • Scientists unveiled a new species of pterosaur, the plane-sized reptiles that lorded over primeval skies above T-rex, Triceratops and other dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous.

Cryodrakon boreas

  • With a wingspan of 10 m and weighing 250 kg, C. boreas rivals another pterosaur as the largest flying animal of all time.
  • It was identified as being distinct from Quetzalcoatlus the other giant pterosaur for which it was initially mistaken.
  • Its remains were first discovered more than 30 years ago in Alberta, Canada, yet elicited scant excitement because of the misclassification.
  • But a closer look at the fossil remains of a juvenile and the intact giant neck bone of a full-grown specimen left no doubt that a new species had been discovered.
  • Like other winged reptiles living at the same time, about 77 million years ago, C. boreas was carnivorous and probably fed on lizards, small mammals and even baby dinosaurs.
  • Despite a likely capacity to cross large bodies of water, the location of fossil remains and the animal’s features point to an inland habitat.

About Pterosaurs

  • They were flying reptiles of the extinct clade or order Pterosauria.
  • They existed during most of the Mesozoic: from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous. Pterosaurs are the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight.
  • There are more than 100 known species of pterosaurs.
  • Despite their large size and wide distribution — across North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe — only fragmentary remains have been unearthed, making the new find especially important.
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