STL Science Center

STL Science Center

07 October 2017

Chinese Dragons

By Ghedoghedo - Own work,
CC BY-SA 4.0,
Possessing a name that is actually based on Chinese and Latin roots, Guidraco venator sounds as though it comes from a deposit in the African country of Guinea or the Asian country of Papua New Guinea (or simply the island of New Guinea, of which Papua New Guinea occupies half the landmass). However, as it was mentioned, Guidraco is a hybrid Chinese and Latin name. The Chinese portion (gui) roughly means "Malicious ghost" and the Latin portion (draco) means dragon. This malicious ghost dragon is actually an Early Cretaceous pterosaur from northeastern China's Liaoning Province (origin of many flattened birds and other Jehol biomass) and consists of a single articulated holotype consisting of the skull a portion of the post-cranial skeleton. Pterosaur preservation is notoriously "slabby" so it comes as no surprise that Guidraco is contained in a thick and flattened slab of rock. The most interesting feature of this slab and its fossil is, I think we can all agree, the very strange looking dental hardware in the pterosaur's mouth. This arrangement has been seen many times in pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and fish. Every time we have seen this the number one prey item that is hypothesized for teeth like this is slippery wet animals like fish; we can learn more about this throughout the week!

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