60 million years ago, the skies were dominated by Giant toothless pterosaurs with wingspans stretching across 39 feet. These giant creatures were present worldwide and could have played a major role in the Late Cretaceous ecosystem.
The pterosaurs in the Azhdarchidae family were huge but did not have any teeth. New studies have showed that pterosaurs became the dominant species while all their toothed cousins were exterminated when the carbon dioxide levels increased, killing off microscopic marine creatures some 90 million years ago.
Alexander Averianov, from the Russian Academy of Sciences, wrote in a new study of this type of pterosaur “This shift in dominance from toothed to toothless pterodactyloids apparently reflects some fundamental changes in Cretaceous ecosystems, which we still poorly understand”
Studying the fossil records, it seems that pterosaurs could be the first airborne vertebrates who became aerial some 220 million years ago. Some of the species were so large, much like a modern jet liner, had to get a running start to get air borne. They also had a hard time while landing. The word Azhdarchidae has its genesis from the Persian word “adarha” which means a dragon and the members of this family lived some 70 million year ago in the Late Cretaceous period.
The Fossil records of pterosaurs are largely incomplete. The task is even more difficult considering the fact that Pterosaur bones are much more fragile than the dinosaurs’ bones. Very few have survived the vagaries of time. Pterosaur fossils of the Azhdarchidae family is found preserved in soft sediment deposits called Konservat-Lagersttten. Late Cretaceous fossils are extremely difficult to obtain it is also a hard task to piece them together.
There was a review of the family Azhdarchidae and its characteristics in 2008 on the basis of 32 bones which were examined by the experts. However Averianov examined 54 Azhdarchidae fossils which included 51 bones and three fossilized tracks. Based on their observation it is obvious that most of the toothless pterosaurs probably lived near rivers, lakes and along coastlines.
The new taxonomy research was published on August 11 in the journal ZooKeys.