Ancient 'Dragons' Existed 60 Million Years Ago

Geo Beats
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It appears that millions of year ago, a species similar to dragons, while not fire-breathing, did exist.

It appears that millions of year ago, a species similar to dragons, while not fire-breathing, did exist.

Pterosaurs were part of the Azhdarchidae family. Azhdarchidae stems from the Persian word for dragon.

Fossil records indicate that they were most likely the first airborne vertebrates, with the original predecessors of the species believed to have taken to flight around 220 million years ago.

It's believed that due to their size they had to get a running start before taking off.

New research shows it is possible that the descendants of these ancient giants, toothless pterosaurs with 39 foot wingspans, became the dominant species after a mass extinction killed off their toothed relatives 90 million years ago. Their worldwide presence over 60 million years ago is believed to have played a vital part in the Late Cretaceous ecosystem.

Based on the fossil locations, researchers found the pterosaurs played a dominate role in the ecosystem at the time and are believed to have lived near lakes, rivers and other marine environments.

One of the researchers said, "This shift in dominance from toothed to toothless pterodactyloids apparently reflects some fundamental changes in Cretaceous ecosystems, which we still poorly understand."

Unfortunately for researchers, no well preserved fossils have been found, due in part to how fragile their bones are.

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