Once upon a time, magical creatures and mythical beasts were found only in fairy tales and folklore. But palaeontologists have recently been a little more flexible in associating their finds with the fire-breathing, castle-guarding dragons we’ve come to know and love. Perhaps unbelievably, four dragons have even entered the fossil record.
Dragon 1: Argentina’s Dragon of Death
Fossils from a flying ‘Dragon of Death’ remained hidden until 2022. Scientists unearthed partial remains of a gigantic Pterosaur - the biggest ever found in South America and gave it the name Thanatosdrakon amaru. The biggest of the two Pterosaurs discovered had a wingspan of nine metres - which is about the size of a modern hand glider - and would have dominated the skies before it died out some 86 million years ago.
Dragon 2: Australia’s Spear-Mouthed Dragon
Many dragon-like fossils have been discovered in recent years, with Australia’s Spear-Mouthed Dragon being discovered in 2021, just a year before Argentina’s discovery. Dating back 150 million years, this particular Pterosaur had a spear-like mouth and a row of terrifying teeth. Its wingspan was slightly smaller than the Dragon of Death but it still would have soared through the sky with ease like the fictional dragons we know so much about.
Dragon 3: The Amazing Dragon of Lingwu, China
In all honesty, this dragon was not very dragon-like at all. It didn’t have a huge wingspan or fire-breathing abilities. And as a herbivore, it didn’t even eat meat. However, when it was found in 2018, this dragon was given a Mandarin name that translates to the ‘amazing dragon of Lingwu’, the city where the fossils were found. Interestingly, this particular Diplodocoid was also the oldest of its kind to have ever been found, resetting the timeline for this creature by a good 15 million years. If we’re only just finding this out now - what more don’t we know?
Dragon 4: Dracorex Hogwartsia
With a name likely to excite Harry Potter fans across the globe, the Dracorex Hogwartsia was discovered in South Dakota back in 2004 in part of the Hell Creek Formation. This is a well-known area for fossil discovery and shed light on a previously unknown type of Pachycephalosaurus. Palaeontologists discovered an almost complete skull with hornlike spikes, something that is very unusual for this dinosaur type - a magical beast perhaps, if you let your imagination soar?
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