Scientists conducting research in the Chilean Atacama Desert have discovered an extremely interesting fossil described as a “Flying Dragon.” The fossilized remains are of a pterosaur from the Jurassic era, and before the fossil was discovered, it was only known to exist in the northern hemisphere. The creature was a flying reptile that soared the skies 160 million years ago.
The fossilized creature has a long and pointed tail with wings and sharp teeth that pointed outward. Osvaldo Rojas discovered the fossil. Rojas is the director of the Atacama Desert Museum of Natural History and Culture. After its discovery, the fossil was investigated by scientists from the University of Chile. The discovery of the fossil is important because it’s the first time creatures of this type have been discovered in the Southern Hemisphere.
Scientist Jhonatan Alarcon from the University of Chile led the investigation, and he says the discovery shows the distribution of creatures in the group was broader than previously known. In addition, the fossil discovery suggests there was possible migration between the northern and southern hemispheres.
During the Jurassic era, scientists believe most of the landmasses in the southern hemisphere were linked to create a giant supercontinent called Gondwana. Researchers say pterosaurs may have migrated between the northern and southern hemispheres, or perhaps they migrated once and simply stayed in the region. Fossils of the type have been discovered in Cuba, and the creatures were believed to be coastal dwellers.
In the distant past, the desert where the fossilized remains were discovered was largely submerged under an ancient ocean. Thus, portions of the desert would have likely been above the water creating coastal areas where pterosaurs are believed to have lived.