October 20, 2021

Meet Thapunngaka shawi, a flying reptile that ruled Queensland’s skies

Fossils collected from the Toolebuc Formation in North West Queensland, Australia have revealed a new species of pterosaur or flying reptile that lived about 100 million years ago. The study team estimated that it had a wingspan of about 23 feet, one metre long skull and around 40 teeth.

First author Tim Richards explained in a release that “it is the closest thing we have to a real-life dragon… The new pterosaur would have been a fearsome beast, with a spear-like mouth. This thing would have been quite savage. It would have cast a great shadow over some quivering little dinosaurs who wouldn’t have heard them coming until it was too late.”

It was named Thapunngaka shawi, in honour of Len Shaw, a local fossicker who discovered it. The genus names thapun and ngaka, mean spear and mouth, respectively, in Wanamara language.

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