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Researchers in Australia have finally given insight into the fossil of an enormous pterosaur discovered in 2011.  Scientists say that the pterosaur is a massive flying carnivorous reptile. They made the discovery in Wanamara Country in North West Queensland, where the scientists discovered its jaw. The animal is said to have lived up to the last days of the age of dinosaurs.

Pterosaur named in honor of Wanamara Nation

According to Tim Richards, the University of Queensland PhD candidate, while dragons are mythological creatures, the pterosaur is an animal that resembles it the most. The pterosaur fossil is called Thapunngaka shawi after the First Nations people of Australia’s Richmond area. It also uses words from the extinct language of the Wanamara Nation. Thapunngaka, the genus, uses the phrase thapun and ngaka, which mean spear and mouth, respectively. Shawi is in honor of Len Shaw, who discovered the fossil.

Features of the pterosaur

Scientists speculate that Thapunngaka shawi had a wingspan of about 7 meters, a mouth that was spear-like, and a long neck. They also think that the pterosaur was savage.

The skull of the discovered pterosaur had about 40 teeth and was 1 meter in length.  The skull’s features enable the animal to fly down and catch fish in the Eromanga Sea in Queensland.

Although it could fly, the pterosaur was not like a bird. The reptiles were, in fact, the first animals with a backbone that could fly. They had hollow bones which enabled them to fly. However, these features make it even harder to find fossils of the animals.

Pterosaurs were very diverse reptiles. The discovered fossil belonged to a group called anhanguerians. Scientists say they lived on every continent. Thapungaka shawi is the third anhangueruan found in Australia. Scientists found the other two in Queensland.

The scientists found a bony crest in the animal’s lower jaw. They think that a similar feature was in the upper jaw. A co-author of the study, Dr. Steve Salisbury, says that crest might have helped the pterosaur fly. Though they still can’t confirm this theory, they hope that they can use future studies to put the matter to rest.