In the icy badlands of Alberta, paleontologists have found a “frozen dragon”: a new genus of pterosaur that once soared over the heads of dinosaurs with a wingspan that stretched at least 16 feet. The flying reptile—named Cryodrakon boreas—lived in what is now western Canada about 76 million years ago, during what’s known as the Cretaceous period.
“The animal, when alive, would not have been a frozen dragon,” notes study coauthor Mike Habib, a paleontologist at the University of Southern California. “It would have flying in a landscape that would have been reasonably temperate … but a hell of a lot warmer than central Alberta is now.”
The pterosaur’s bones have been known to scientists for nearly three decades, but it has only now been confirmed as its own genus, researchers announced on Tuesday in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
“For me, as a Canadian who also works on pterosaurs, it’s pretty cool to get an actual name for an animal that’s been kicking around for a while,” says paleontologist Liz Martin-Silverstone, a research associate at the University of Bristol who wasn’t involved with the study.