University of Queensland paleontologists have found remains of dragon-like flying reptiles. It's been dubbed the "closest thing to a dragon" that can be found on the planet.

A team from the University of Queensland examined a jaw fossil discovered in Queensland's northeastern region over ten years ago. What they discovered was the skull of a pterosaur, Australia's biggest flying reptile at the time. On Monday, the research was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

How big is the real-life dragon fossil?

The dinosaur had a 3-foot-long skull and about 40 sharp teeth, excellent for catching fish and small dinosaurs to eat, as well as a wingspan as big as a school bus. The species is said to have inhabited the region in an area that was previously covered by the ancient Eromanga Sea, USA Today reported.

The fossil was then analyzed by PhD candidate Tim Richards; he found that the creature's fossils are unusual because pterosaur bones were thin, hollow, and brittle. It is the third pterosaur species to be discovered in Australia. The name Thapunngaka shawi is made up of syllables from the Wanamara Nation's now-extinct language, which is one of the country's Indigenous First Peoples communities. According to Steve Salisbury, the study's co-author, the phrases "thapun" and "ngaka" are Wanamara words for "spear" and "mouth."


Per Daily Mail, the new species was a member of the anhanguerians, a genus of pterosaurs that lived on every continent during the Age of Dinosaurs. Pterosaurs possessed thin-walled, hollow bones that were well fitted to powered flight. Their fossils are uncommon and poorly preserved due to their adaptations.

Only the third species of anhanguerian pterosaur has been discovered in Australia, and all three are found in western Queensland. The huge size of the bony crest on the lower jaw of this new species of anhanguerian was particularly impressive, according to Dr. Steve Salisbury, co-author of the study and Richard's PhD supervisor.

It would have had a similar crest on its upper jaw, but it isn't present in the fossil record utilized to examine this species, according to Dr. Salisbury. Len Shaw, a local fossicker who has been scratching around in the region for decades, discovered the fossil in a quarry just northwest of Richmond in June 2011.

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What is the name of the newly discovered species?

The new species' name is a tribute to the First Nations peoples of the Richmond region, where the fossil was discovered. The name is made up of terms from the Wanamara Nation's extinct language. The Thapunngaka shawi fossil is on exhibit at Richmond's Kronosaurus Korner.

Shaw recognized the new species and notified the experts at Richmond so that the fossil could be safely recovered. A team of experts from the University of Queensland's Dinosaur Lab examined the complete bone structure. The findings of the research were then reported in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

According to the report, the Thapunngaka shawi, a huge bird-like creature, flew across the sky over the now-extinct Eromanga Sea. It primarily ate fish and other marine creatures. "It's the closest thing we have to a real-life dragon," Tim remarked of the new species." Richard went on to describe the creature as "savage." He added that it would have thrown a long shadow over some trembling tiny dinosaur who wouldn't have seen it until it was too late.

The pterosaur was a successful group of reptiles with a wide range of species. Richard said that its adaptability and distinctiveness stemmed from the fact that it was the first backboned creature to achieve powered flight. These bird-like animals, on the other hand, have hollow bones to ensure a light bodyweight and smooth glide. Bones are extremely improbable to exist given these adaptations, as per Republic World.

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