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Paleontology: One of the Greatest Flying Animals of All Time?

The time 70 million years ago not only produced giants on land like the titanosaurs or on the water like the mosasaurs. The skies were also ruled by giants: pterosaurs - also known as pterosaurs - like Quetzalcoatlus or the one described only recently Hatzegopteryx from Transylvania in Romania reached dimensions like a small airplane. Their wingspans were up to twelve meters, which made them one of the largest known flying animals of all time. In the Nemegt Formation fossil deposit in Mongolia, paleontologists working with Takanobu Tsuihiji from the University of Tokyo have now found the remains of a pterosaur that could easily take on the two giants, as they explain in the "Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology".

The scientists came across cervical vertebrae of the so far nameless kind, which suggest the enormous dimensions of the animal. "These are really huge eddies, with which the remains of the species from Romania are at best comparable," said pterosaur expert Mark Witton to "National Geographic". The animals could not only fly, but also walk on all fours with the help of their wing bones. It is even likely that they hunted this way - small dinosaurs were certainly their preferred prey, as they roamed the region in large numbers at the time. At least that is what corresponding fossil finds suggest. Standing on the ground, the pterosaurs reached a height of about six meters - about the size of a full-grown giraffe.

The find is so far the first from East Asia. This shows that pterosaurs were even more widespread than was previously known. They died out along with the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period.