A Giant Pterosaur Could Have Been The Top Predator In Ancient Romania

Admin | Published 2017-02-11 08:49
This pterosaur species is huge,

An illustration on how Hatzegopteryx was a baddass in its time (c) Wikipedia

The fossilized remains of the flying dinosaur, known as Hatzegopteryx, was found in Romania by paleontologists from University of Portsmouth and University of Southampton. Many similar fossils were found in the region too. Findings indicates that during the Cretaceous period, that Hatzegopteryx was the top dominant predator in the region. We used to think that pterosaurs are flimsy flying creatures that eat fish. According to fossil finds, pterosaurs actually come in different sizes, from the size of a sparrow to a size of an airplane. Most have slender bodies and elongated necks suitable for flying. Hatzegopteryx is different. It is slightly smaller than the fellow flying dinosaur Arambourigania. Unlike its slender relatives, it possessed a wide skull with numerous muscular attachments, like a crocodile. Fossils of Hatzegopteryx neck vertebra indicate it had a short, stocky neck, more like a T-rex than a flying reptile. Bones also indicate that the flying dinosaur had reinforced limb bones that enable it to walk on all fours efficiently. Due to its large size, heavy built and relatively large head, first fossils were interpreted to be from a large therapod (T-rex, velociraptors, etc.) rather than a flying dinosaur. Researchers suggested that these proportions indicate that Hatzegopteryx was a powerful and dominant predator. Unlike its relatives that have slender bodies and long graceful necks, Hatzegopteryx had a large muscular skeleton made it capable of attacking other dinosaurs. Aside from the fact that it can fly and snatch small reptiles in the air, and it can also use its four limbs to stalk and hunt down prey. The researchers also noted that the area where the fossil is located, so far, lack fossils of land-based predators. The area, in Transylvania, has yielded several fossils for the past several years. Based on the findings, it indicates that Hatzegopteryx was the top predator in the region.

Size of Hatzegopteryx (right) compared to Arambourigania (center), and giraffe (left) (c) Mark Witton

More details about the lifestyle and behavior of Hatzegopteryx will be uncovered soon as the skeleton is still undergoing study and development. The findings are published in the journal PeerJ. Do you want more news about dinosaurs, like this? Check out WowScience!
Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!