Fossil of ‘dragon’ millions of years old discovered for the first time in Chile

The fossil of a dinosaur discovered in Chile that called the Earth its home millions of years ago has turned out to be a paleontology first.

The remains of the dinosaur—a winged reptile whose appearance many have likened to a dragon’s—have never before seen in that part of the world, proving to be quite the exciting discovery for scientists across the globe.

Phys.org reveals the dinosaur to be the rhamphorhynchine pterosaur, a flying lizard-type being that lived during the Jurassic era about 160 million years yore. The remains were found in the Atacama Desert over a decade back, although the exact type of species was only recently confirmed.

Jhonatan Alarcon of the University of Chile—one of the scientists who studied the fossil— describes how, in life, the pterosaur had a wingspan of roughly two meters (or roughly 6.5 feet), a lengthy tail, and a pointed snout (again, not entirely unlike those well-known fire-breathing, knight-fighting mythical creatures). On top of that, the discovery of this fossil not only happens to be “the oldest known pterosaur found in Chile,” but in the entire Southern Hemisphere.

“This shows the distribution of the animals in this group was wider than what was known up to now,” explains Alarcon.

Reuters reports how the unearthing of the fossil in such a location indicates there was a potential migration between both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres when many now-separated land masses were joined into one called Gondwana. This theory is even further backed by the fact that pterosaur fossils were exclusively found in the northern part of the world up until now.

“There are pterosaurs of this group also in Cuba, which apparently were coastal animals,” adds Alarcon. “[So] most likely they have migrated between the North and the South or maybe they came and once stayed, we don’t know.”

What we do know is, indeed, life finds a way.

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Author: Keith Hughes