Frozen Dragon Of The North Was A Real Animal And The Largest Ever To Fly

Science | By Holly Patrick | September 14, 2019

Let's talk about dragons. With the exception of the Kimodo dragon, it is generally accepted that dragons are nothing more than a thing of fiction seen in movies and shows. There are different types of dragons across different cultures. The Chinese dragons are very different from European dragons, for example.

All cultures seem to love dragons in one form or another. Something about them is so magical, yet there is a certain level of gravitas and respect that a dragon inherently has. They were the main foe of knights, and even their depiction in The Hobbit is one of admiration as well as fear.

It is easy to say that dragons never existed, but what exactly constitutes a dragon? At what point does a flying lizard become a dragon? If you are looking at the Frozen Dragon of the Northwind, a real life animal that existed 77 million years ago, then you might start to believe that dragons are in fact real.

The Cryodrakon Boreas, a real life dragon

As if dragons weren't popular enough already, Game of Thrones came around and brought them to even greater fandom. Although dragons like the ones in Game of Thrones aren't real, there were real life creatures who were very similar. One of them is known as the Cryodrakon Boreas, which is translated as Frozen Dragon of the North Wind. Now that sounds like something straight out of Game of Thrones, doesn't it?

The Cryodrakon Boreas was massive with a wingspan of 32.8 feet, not unlike the dragons in Game of Thrones. Fossils of the giant beast were found at Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. The park is known for having many different fossils and many different discoveries have been made there. Initially, the Cryodrakon's fossils were thought to be from a different creature, but that was not the case.

The Size of a Cessna

Fossils from the Cryodrakon's legs, rib, neck, and part of the wings were found, and despite the initial case of mistaken identity, researchers quickly found that it was its own species. You might know these types of creatures as pterodactyls, however, that is a commonly incorrect mistake. They are not pterodactyls.

The wing bones found were only for a wingspan of about 16.4 feet, making it just a baby. Researchers were able to look at the neck bone of a bigger Cryodakon to determine that the average wingspan of an adult is 32.8 feet. For a better reference point, the Cryodakon is about the size of a Cessna airplane. That's small for an airplane, but massive for a creature. It is frightening to imagine if these dinosaurs roamed the skies nowadays.

It Ate Other Dinosaurs

Not surprising for a dragon, the Cryodrakon ate other animals including mammals and other baby dinosaurs. David Hone, the author of the study, said, "This is a cool discovery, we knew this animal was here but now we can show it is different to other azhdarchids and so it gets a name. It is great that we can identify Cryodrakon as being distinct to Quetzalcoatlus as it means we have a better picture of the diversity and evolution of predatory pterosaurs in North America." Even though this dragon was very adept at flying, it remained inland, as is evident by how their bones are scattered.

Although the Cryodrakon's cool nickname includes the term "frozen," the environment it lived in was more mediteranean than anything else. The world was a different place back then, after all.



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