Scientists Unearth 86-Million-Year-Old Fossils of Flying “Dragon of Death” Dino

May 26, 2022

It looks like a giant pelican with bat’s wings and has a nightmarish nickname to boot. The scientists who discovered fossilized remains of this monstrous flying reptile say they’ve found a new species. They call it by the Greek name,“Thanatosdrakon amaru.”

"It seemed appropriate to name it that way," the project leader told Reuters. "It's the dragon of death."

The team found the fossils while digging at a site in the Andes mountains. 

These “dragons” are members of the pterosaur family. They flew above walking dinosaurs during the Cretaceous Period. That was 86 million years ago. They lived about 20 million years before an asteroid crashed into the Earth. The asteroid wiped out all the dinos. 

The dragons were cold-blooded creatures. They are believed to be among the first flying animals to hunt their prey and had no flying competitors. So, the animals could dominate the air all over Earth. They evolved into various sizes and shapes.

Scientists say these fossils are among the largest pterosaur remains ever discovered. One specimen had a wingspan of 23 feet. The other had a 30 foot wingspan. That suggests they might have been blood relatives. Both had bodies as long as school buses. Both died at the same time, experts say.

The project leader says he’s never seen anything like these specimens: “We don’t have a current record of any close relative that even has a body modification similar to these beasts,” he said.  

Photo from Leonardo D. Ortiz David.

What idea is developed throughout the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. where the “Thanatosdrakon amaru” remains were found
b. why the “Thanatosdrakon amaru” was the most dangerous predator during the Cretaceous Period
c. how the “Thanatosdrakon amaru” was different than other dinosaurs
d. who discovered the “Thanatosdrakon amaru” remains
For more formative assessments, visit to start a free trial.

News brought to you by The Juice

Start a free trial today