Scientists have found evidence a “flying dragon” – known to have roamed the skies of the northern hemisphere – also set foot in Chile.
The dinosaur belonged to a group of early pterosaurs that roamed the earth 160 million years ago.
A fossil of this so-called flying dragon has been discovered in the Atacama Desert in the South American country.
It is the first time evidence of the Jurassic-era reptile – which had a long tail, wings and sharp, outward pointing teeth – has been found in the southern hemisphere.
The fossil in Chile was discovered by Osvaldo Rojas, the director of the Atacama Desert Museum of National History and Culture, in the town of Cerritos Bayos in 2009.
The discovery indicates a migration of species between North and South America that is believed to be related to a supercontinent called Gondwana.
“This shows the distribution of the animals in this group was wider than what was known up to now,” said Jhonatan Alarcon, a University of Chile scientist who led the investigation.
“There are pterosaurs of this group also in Cuba, which apparently were coastal animals, so most likely they have migrated between the North and the South or maybe they came once and stayed, we don’t know,” Mr Alarcon from the University of Chile said.
The scientists stated that this discovery represents “the oldest known pterosaur found in Chile.”
And the Atacama Desert became a hotspot for fossil discoveries. The arid prehistoric landscapes were inundated with seawater.
Details of this discovery were published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.