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Giant azhdarchid pterosaurs from the terminal Cretaceous of Transylvania (western Romania)
Abstract and Figures
Pterosaur remains from the Late Cretaceous of the Hateg Basin of western Romania were reported by Nopcsa as early as 1899. Recent discoveries from the Late Maastrichtian Densuş-Ciula Formation include the giant azhdarchid Hatzegopteryx thambema, the holotype of which, consisting of skull elements and a humerus from the Vǎlioara locality, is described in detail. A very large femur from the same formation at Tuştea is also described. The systematic position of Hatzegopteryx is discussed. The wing span of H. thambema is estimated to be close to that of Quetzalcoatlus northropi (≥ 12 m), but its skull is especially robust and may have been remarkably long (≥ 2.5 m). The skull bones of H. thambema consist of a very thin outer cortex enclosing an inner meshwork of extremely thin trabeculae surrounding very numerous small alveoli, an unusual structure reminiscent of expanded polystyrene. This peculiar structure, combining strength with lightness, can probably be considered as an adaptation to flight in a very large animal, through reduction of skull weight.
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