Monday, July 30, 2012

[Paleontology • 2002] Hatzegopteryx thambema • A new Giant azhdarchid pterosaur with a robust skull from the terminal Cretaceous of Transylvania (western Romania)

Art: Fall down mountains, just don't fall on me

A new giant pterosaur, Hatzegopteryx thambema, nov.gen., nov.sp., from the Maastrichtian Densuy-Ciula Formation of Romania is remarkable for its very large size (estimated wing span S12 m) and for the robustness of its large skull, which may have been nearly 3 m long. The stout skull bones contrast with the usually thin and slender skull elements of other pterosaurs, and raise the question of how the weight of the skull was reduced in order to make flight possible. The answer probably lies in the very peculiar internal structure of the bones, which consists of a dense network of very thin trabeculae enclosing small alveoli. This structure is reminiscent of expanded polystyrene and, like it, probably combined strength with lightness.

Derivatio nominis: Generic name from the Hatzeg (or Hat¸eg) basin of Transylvania, where the type specimen was collected, and pteryx, Greek for wing. Specific name from thambema, Greek for monster, alluding to the monstrous size of this pterosaur

Buffetaut, E., Grigorescu, D., and Csiki, Z. 2002. A new giant pterosaur with a robust skull from the latest Cretaceous of Romania. Naturwissenschaften. 89(4): 180-184. 

Buffetaut, E., Grigorescu, D. and Csiki, Z. 2003. Giant azhdarchid pterosaurs from the terminal Cretaceous of Transylvania (western Romania), Geological Society, London, Special Publications 217: 91-104. DOI: 10.1144/​GSL.SP.2003.217.01.09