Australian paleontologists have described the fossil pterosaur Thapunngaka shawi found in the province of Queensland. It became the largest found on the continent — its wingspan could reach seven meters. The scientists ‘ article was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to master flapping flight. They adapted perfectly to it and acquired thin-walled and relatively hollow bones. However, this is why the fossils of these archosaurs are poorly preserved. For example, less than 20 species of pterosaurs have been described in Australia.
Part of the lower jaw of a previously unknown archosaur was discovered in 2011 by amateur paleontologist Len Shaw in northwest Queensland in the deposits of the Albian stage (100-113 million years ago) of the Cretaceous period. According to paleontologists, the length of the pterosaur’s skull should have been about a meter and the wingspan – from six to seven meters. It is assumed that Thapunngaka shawi, like many pterosaurs, ate fish — the fossil was found in the territory where the Eromanga shelf Sea was located in the Cretaceous period. A distinctive feature of the open species was a massive bone ridge on the lower and, presumably, on the upper jaws.
The new species belongs to the Anhangverids, a group of pterosaurs widely distributed in the Cretaceous Period. The generic name of the new species was given in honor of the tribe that lived on the territory of the discovery of the fossil — Thapunngaka in the Vanamara language means “mouth” and “spear,” and the species name is in honor of the discoverer.