LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – It may look like something out of an episode of “Game of Thrones,” but a USC scientist and his research group has uncovered a new flying dinosaur species they’ve named the “Frozen Dragon of the North.”
USC assistant professor Dr. Michael Habib and his team pieced together a new genus and species of azhdarchid pterosaur which they coined Cryodrakon boreas, according to an article published Tuesday in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
They made the discovery by re-examining a collection of bones which made up a partial skeleton which had been previously dug up from Dinosaur Provincial Park in Southern Alberta. Scientists have been excavating for pterosaur bones there since 1972.
The bones date back to the Cretaceous period, between 76.9 and 75.8 million years ago.
Azhdarchid pterosaurs can weigh 500 pounds with wingspans of up to 30 feet. Cryodrakon boreas are believed to have roamed North America.
“This particular group of pterosaurs includes the largest flying animals of all time,” Habib said in a news release. “Their anatomy holds important clues about the limits of animal flight and may be important in the future for biologically inspired mechanical design for flight.”
Azhdarchids are rare and most finds will usually only consist of a single bone, Habib explains.
“Our new species is represented by a partial skeleton,” Habib said. “This tells us a great deal about the anatomy of these large flyers, how they flew, and how they lived.”