The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum has announced the discovery of a new pterosaur, Ferrodraco lentoni (Lenton’s iron dragon).
The fossilised remains of Ferrodraco – Butch to his friends – have gone on display at the museum, 25km outside Winton.
The specimen was named after the late Mayor of Winton, Graham ‘Butch’ Lenton, in recognition of his staunch support of western Queensland’s regional communities.
The pterosaur specimen was discovered by grazier Bob Elliott on Belmont Station, near Winton, in early 2017.
The paper naming the new pterosaur, was published on Thursday in Scientific Reports – an open-access online journal published by Nature.
Ferrodraco lentoni is the third Australian pterosaur to be named, with all three named species coming from western Queensland
The research on “Ferrodraco” is being spearheaded by Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum palaeontologist Adele Pentland as part of her PhD in vertebrate palaeontology through Swinburne University of Technology.
“With a wingspan of around 4m, Ferrodraco would have been an apex aerial predator around 96 million years ago,” Ms Pentland said.
“At this time the Winton region was on the southern shores of an inland sea and was globally positioned about where Victoria’s southern coastline is today.”
Based on the shape and characteristics of its jaws, including crests on upper and lower jaw and spike-shaped teeth, Ms Pentland and colleagues have identified the specimen as an ornithocheirid, a group of pterosaurs that is also known from Brazil and England.
Ferrodraco lentoni joins several significant dinosaur specimens at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum including Australovenator wintonensis, Australia’s most-complete carnivorous dinosaur, and bones from the large sauropod species Savannasaurus elliottorum and Diamantinasaurus matildae.
Museum co-founder David Elliott describes the new discovery as one of the museum’s most exciting accessions.
“The Winton area has produced the majority of Australia’s large dinosaur fossils, so presenting a significant pterosaur skeleton alongside the giants with which it co-existed is a huge bonus for science, education and regional tourism,” he said.