|A reconstruction of Cryodrakon|
Hone et al., 2019
Hone et al., 2019
Cryodrakon ("cold dragon") is a genus of azhdarchid pterosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous period in what is now Canada. It contains a single species, Cryodrakon boreas, recovered from the Dinosaur Park Formation.
Since 1972, bones of large azhdarchids have been reported from Alberta, representing the first pterosaur finds from Canada. These were sometimes referred to a Quetzalcoatlus sp. Later research by Michael Habib indicated that they represented a taxon new to science.
In 2019, the type species Cryodrakon boreas was named and described by David William Elliott Hone, Michael Habib and François Therrien. The generic name is derived from the Greek κρύος, kryos, "icy cold", and δράκων, drakon, "dragon". The specific name is identical to Boreas, the north wind. Habib had considered viserion as a specific name, as a reference to the ice dragon in Game of Thrones.
The holotype, TMP 1992.83, was found in a layer of the Dinosaur Park Formation dating from the late Campanian. The layer is between 76.7 and 74.3 million years old, with the excavation site being located near the lower or older boundary of this range. It consists of a partial skeleton lacking the skull. It contains a fourth neck vertebra, a rib, a humerus, a pteroid bone, a fourth metacarpal, a shinbone and a metatarsal. The skeleton was in 1992 excavated in Quarry Q207 and in 1995 reported and partially described. Its bones were not articulated but associated. It represents an immature individual. It is the only pterosaur skeleton, as opposed to single bones, ever found in Canada. It was described in more detail in 2005.
All the known azhdarchid material from the Dinosaur Park Formation was referred to the species. The specimens consisted of the neck vertebrae TMP 1996.12.369, TMP 1981.16.107, TMP 1980.16.1367, TMP 1989.36.254 and TMP 1993.40.11; the scapulocoracoid TMP 1981.16.182; the ulna TMP 1965.14.398; fourth metacarpals TMP 1979.14.24, TMP 1987.36.16 and TMP 2005.12.156; wing finger phalanges TMP 1972.1.1, TMP 1982.19.295 and TMP 1992.36.936; and the thighbone TMP 1988.36.92. The bones represent individuals of various biological ages, among them juveniles and a large mature exemplar. Most bones are from medium-sized animals. In 2019, only the neck vertebrae were described in detail; bones from other parts of the body had already been treated in 2005.
The material indicates individuals of varying size. Specimen TMP 1996.12.369, a fifth neck vertebra with a length of only 10.6 millimetres, is from a juvenile animal with an estimated wingspan of about two metres. Most bones, among them the holotype, are similar in dimensions to those of Quetzalcoatlus sp., implying a wingspan of about five metres. Specimen TMP 1980.16.1367 is a fifth neck vertebra with an estimated original length of fifty centimetres, indicating an animal equal in size to the holotype of Quetzalcoatlus northropi, the wingspan of which has been estimated at ten metres. This vertebra was in 1982 misidentified as a thighbone of a pterosaur with a thirteen metres wingspan.
Cryodrakon was proportionally similar to Quetzalcoatlus and other long-necked advanced azhdarchids, though its somewhat more robust bones may indicate that it was slightly heavier.
Cryodrakon is distinguished from all other known azhdarchids by two features of its neck vertebrae. The lateral pneumatic fossae or pneumatopores, a pair of small openings leading to air pockets on either side of the neural canal, were positioned near the lower edge of the neural canal, while those of other azhdarchids (with the purported exception of Eurazhdarcho) were positioned higher up. The second distinguishing feature related to its postexapophyses, large bony knobs adjacent to the protruding rear connection surface of each vertebra, the cotyle. Cryodrakon's postexapophyses were prominent in width but short in length, clearly separated from the cotyle, and their facets were directed downwards.
Cryodrakon was placed in the Azhdarchidae in 2019. No exact cladistic analysis was given clarifying the precise relationships with other azhdarchids. It would have been one of the oldest known azhdarchids of North-America.
- Hone, D.; Habib, M.; Therrien, F. (September 2019). "Cryodrakon boreas, gen. et sp. nov., a Late Cretaceous Canadian azhdarchid pterosaur". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 39 (3): e1649681. doi:10.1080/02724634.2019.1649681.
- Greshk, Michael (10 September 2019). "New 'frozen dragon' pterosaur found hiding in plain sight - The flying reptile was mostly head and neck—and had at least a 16-foot wingspan, if not bigger". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
- Malewar, Amit (10 September 2019). "New reptile species was one of largest ever flying animals - It is different from other azhdarchids and so it gets a name". TechExplorist.com. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
- Russell, D.A. 1972. "A pterosaur from the Oldman Formation (Cretaceous) of Alberta". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 9: 1338–1340
- Currie, P.J., and D.A. Russell. 1982. "A giant pterosaur (Reptilia: Archosauria) from the Judith River (Oldman) Formation of Alberta". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 19: 894–897
- Currie, P.J., and A.R. Jacobsen. 1995. "An azhdarchid pterosaur eaten by a velociraptorine theropod". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 32: 922–925
- Currie, P.J., and E.B. Koppelhus (eds.). 2005. Dinosaur Provincial Park: A Spectacular Ancient Ecosystem Revealed. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 672 pp