'Closest thing we have to a real-life dragon': Remains of giant flying dinosaur found in Australia

An artists reconstruction of the Thapunngaka shawi Credit: Queensland University

The remains of a dinosaur described as the "closest thing we have to a real-life dragon" has been unveiled in Australia.

The new species of pterosaur had an estimated wingspan of seven metres, a spear-like mouth and razor-sharp teeth.

The dinosaur has been named Thapunngaka shawi.University of Queensland PhD candidate Tim Richards, who led the research, said: “It was essentially just a skull with a long neck, bolted on a pair of long wings.

“This thing would have been quite savage.

Tim Richards led the research into the new species of pterosaur Credit: Queensland University

“It would have cast a great shadow over some quivering little dinosaur that wouldn’t have heard it until it was too late.”

He added: "It’s the closest thing we have to a real-life dragon.”The dinosaur would have used its metre long skull to dive down and grab giant fish which used to live in a vast inland sea which once covered a large part of Queensland.

Credit: Queensland University

The discovery of a new pterosaur is rare because of their highly adapted thin bones which were suited for flight but are less likely to be preserved over the many millennia since they died.

The fossil was found in a quarry just northwest of Richmond in June 2011 by Len Shaw, a local prospector who had been searching the area for fossils for decades.The name of the new species honours the First Nations peoples of the Richmond area where the fossil was found, incorporating words from the now-extinct language of the Wanamara Nation as well as Mr Shaw, who discovered the remains.