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Flying giant once made Transylvania unsafe

“It's not the largest pterosaur ever found, but it's the largest mandible that has been recovered so far. The reconstructed length is 110 to 130 centimeters, ”says paleontologist Mátyás Vremir of the Transylvanian Museum Society. He led a new study that appeared in the specialist magazine “Lethaia” and describes the find.

"That could indicate a very large pterosaur - possibly with a wingspan of eight to nine meters."

It is the third giant pterosaur species found in the region to date. This means that Transylvania can now boast of the world's largest known density of giant flight reptiles. Among them is a giant discovered in 2009, nicknamed "Dracula" by researchers and possibly the largest pterosaur to have ever lived.

Thanks to these and other pterosaur finds made in Romanians, paleontologists are gaining a better understanding of how the winged giants fitted into their prehistoric ecosystem.

"Except for a few crumbs, nothing was known about pterosaurs after more than a century of fossil finds in Transylvania - until 16 years ago," says Vremir. "In the last ten years the picture has changed fundamentally and more than 50 fossils have been discovered at various sites."

UNUSUAL PROPORTIONS

The huge jawbone - so far the only bone of the new type that has been found - was originally excavated in 1978 in the Hațeg region. At that time, however, it was not recognized that it was a pterosaur bone. Vremir and his co-author Gareth Dyke, a paleontologist from the Hungarian University of Debrecen, visited the Bucharest fossil collection in 2011 and noticed the omission.

Also one of the largest named pterosaurs, the Hatzegopteryx, was discovered near Hațeg. It was the size of a giraffe and could have a wingspan of up to eleven meters. Due to the similarities between the remapped fossil and the jaw of a related Hungarian pterosaur named Bakonydraco Vremir and his colleagues believe that the as yet unnamed species has a larger, more powerful head than Hatzegopteryx although it was a little smaller overall.