Ancient Aerial Marvel: 120-Million-Year-Old ‘Ghost Dragon’ Pterosaur, an Extraordinary Flying Reptile, Unearthed in China

The discovery of a 120-million-year-old flying reptile named Guidraco venator, or “ghost dragon hunter,” in northeast China has unveiled an extraordinary prehistoric marvel.

This meat-eating pterosaur had a wingspan of 13 to 16 feet and a unique skull with a basket of pointy teeth at the end. The teeth, each 2 inches long, suggest it was adapted to catch fish, and a round sail on its head may have aided in flight stabilization.

Paleontologists believe that G. venator actively hunted fish, supported by the findings of fossilized poop near its head containing fish vertebrae.

The discovery challenges previous assumptions about the distribution of pterosaurs, as G. venator is similar but not identical to pterosaurs found in Brazil. This global distribution hints at the widespread presence of these flying reptiles during the early Cretaceous period.

The fossil was found in the Jiufotang Formation in northeast China, adding a new dimension to the understanding of pterosaur evolution. Previously, most pterosaur fossils were discovered in arid plains or river valleys, suggesting an inland habitat.

The G. venator find suggests that these creatures may have been more globally distributed than previously thought, with tantalizing fragments in other locations hinting at similar discoveries in the future.

The study of G. venator opens up new possibilities for uncovering the diverse species of pterosaurs and understanding their behaviors, such as whether they scavenged, hunted, or employed a combination of strategies.

As paleontologists continue to explore early Cretaceous strata worldwide, it is expected that more pterosaurs will emerge, revealing further insights into the ancient history of these fascinating flying reptiles.


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