The most significant pterosaur fossil ever discovered in Australia has been unearthed in the Winton area of central western Queensland.
The newly discovered species, which my colleagues and I have named Ferrodraco lentoni, had a wingspan of about 4 metres (13 feet). It lived around 96 million years ago, and was surprisingly similar to other pterosaurs from England, suggesting that these huge flying reptiles could traverse the globe with relative ease.
Pterosaurs are quite rare in the fossil record, as their bones are hollow and the outer bone in most instances is only 1 millimetre thick. Only 15 pterosaur specimens have ever been scientifically described from Australia, many of them incomplete.
Until recently, only two species of Australian pterosaur had been described: Mythunga camara and Aussiedraco molnari, both based on fossil skull fragments.
Although more complete fossils of similar pterosaurs are known from Brazil and China, until this discovery, our understanding of the pterosaurs that lived in Australia during the Cretaceous period was limited.
The new pterosaur specimen, unveiled today in the journal Scientific Reports, includes a partial skull, five partial neck vertebrae, and bones from both the left and right wings.
This particular individual represents a fully grown adult, based on the fusion seen in several bones. Judging by its wing bones and the dimensions of similar pterosaurs, Ferrodraco would have had a wingspan of about 4 metres, with a skull probably reaching 60 centimetres (24 inches) in length. It is likely that it ate mainly fish.
The genus name Ferrodraco refers to the fact that this winged reptile was found preserved in ironstone. And the species name lentoni honours former Winton Shire mayor Graham “Butch” Lenton, in recognition of his service to the community. The Winton area has within recent decades produced several well-preserved dinosaur fossils.
Ferrodraco lived 96 million years ago, around lake and river systems surrounded by conifer forests. Based on other fossil evidence, this pterosaur shared its environment with several dinosaurs including the sauropods Diamantinasaurus and Savannasaurus, theropods such as Australovenator, ornithopods and ankylosaurs. Competing with Ferrodraco for fish in the freshwater river systems were crocodylomorphs (such as Isisfordia) and plesiosaurs.
The Ferrodraco specimen was discovered by Winton grazier Bob Elliott in April 2017 when he was spraying weedkiller along the banks of a creek on Belmont Station. It’s not the first major fossil find on Belmont Station – the unique sauropod dinosaur Savannasaurus elliottorum was discovered just 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the pterosaur site.
Unlike other fossil sites in the Winton area, the pterosaur remains were found in the banks of a creek and had likely been exposed to the elements for several years. One bone from the wing had even been kicked away from the main site by livestock travelling through the creek. Had the bones not been infiltrated by iron-rich fluids, which ultimately became ironstone, these precious fossils would have been lost to erosion many years ago.
Unlike many other fossils, the bones were covered by a thin layer of rock. This meant that Ferrodraco had an unusually quick journey (by palaeontological standards) from discovery to scientific publication.
Preparation of the specimen was finished within a week by preparator Ali Calvey. Even before the bones had been fully prepared, our team was able to make detailed observations and determine which family of pterosaurs this specimen belonged to.
Surprisingly, Ferrodraco shows closer ties with similarly aged pterosaurs from England than it does to those from South America. This suggests that these pterosaurs, collectively known as ornithocheirids, could easily fly across oceans and disperse between continents.
This idea has been put forward by other palaeontologists, but the dearth of material from Australia had made it difficult to verify until now.
Ferrodraco has changed the game in that regard, demonstrating that it was living at least as recently as its Northern Hemisphere ornithocheirid cousins. In fact, it might represent one of the geologically youngest ornithocheirids ever found.
Although more work needs to be done to demonstrate this, Ferrodraco is nevertheless one of the most important pterosaur specimens ever found in Australia.
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Astonishing Neolithic Circle Of 30-Foot “Shafts” Discovered Near Stonehenge
“This is an unprecedented find of major significance within the UK,” said archaeologist Vincent Gaffney.
(TMU) – An international archaeological consortium called the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project says it has unearthed a stunning constellation of monuments very close to Stonehenge. While their purpose is unclear, scientists say the discovery could help to unlock new clues about the sophisticated and complex nature of prehistoric societies.
Led by The University of Bradford and several other institutions, researchers used geophysical surveys and remote sensing technology to discover a 2-kilometer circular pattern of “astonishing” shafts in Durrington Walls. Carbon-dating places the shafts at 2500 B.C. Each one measures around 10 meters (33 feet) and is buried 5 meters (16 feet) below the ground.
Professor Vincent Gaffney of the University of Bradford explains why the discovery is an important one:
“The area around Stonehenge is among the most studied archaeological landscapes on Earth and it is remarkable that the application of new technology can still lead to the discovery of such a massive prehistoric structure which, currently, is significantly larger than any comparative prehistoric monument that we know of in Britain, at least.”
Scientists discovered the circle, or ring of monuments, in the “empty spaces” of the UNESCO World Heritage Site for Stonehenge, one of the most popular prehistoric monuments in the world. It’s also one of the most mysterious, as archaeologists and historians have struggled to determine why the legendary stones were positioned according to the solstices and the sun’s movements in the sky.
The new discovery of shafts–from what scientists believe was probably the Neolithic era–presents another vexing mystery.
“Clearly sophisticated practices demonstrate that the people were so in tune with natural events to an extent that we can barely conceive in the modern world we live in today,” said Richard Bates, from the University of St. Andrews’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
Some researchers believe there could be a cosmological link between the newly discovered circle of monuments and Stonehenge. The circle may have served as a sacred gateway or boundary connected to Stonehenge.
In a press release, the university stated:
“….no comparative prehistoric structure in the UK encloses such a large area as the circle of shafts at Durrington, and the structure is currently unique….The presence of such massive features, and perhaps an internal post line, guided people towards the religious sites within the circle or may have warned those who were not permitted to cross the boundary marked by the shafts.”
Bates adds the new site “is giving us an insight to the past that shows an even more complex society than we could ever imagine.”
The Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project says the discovery will bolster their work to create a detailed archaeological map of the ‘invisible’ landscape of the area. Eventually, they plan to create a digital model of all monuments contained within a “seamless map of sub-surface and surface archaeological features and structures.”
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Mother Found Still Cradling Baby After 4,800 Years
Oftentimes, few people are interested in the findings of archaeological digs – broken pots, scattered bones; it usually takes a sign of cannibalism or extraordinarily old carbon dating to draw the mainstream media’s attention. Yet a Taiwanese discovery announced last year proved to be an exception to the rule. Photos of the exhumed bodies went viral and major news organizations from Fox News to the Huffington Post reported on the story.
What was that discovery? A Stone Age skeleton of a mother cradling a baby in a shared grave.
The Origins of the Mummified Mother and Baby
The scientific excavation began in 2014 and took about a year to complete. A team of archaeologists led by Chu Whei-Lee of Taiwan’s National Museum of Science was working on a Neolithic site 6.2 miles (10 kilometres) inland from Taiwan’s western coast. Today, that area is called Taichung City but the site itself has been dubbed An-ho. Experts believe shorelines have shifted over the years and that An-ho was once a coastal village. Indeed, over 200 shark teeth have been found in the site’s dwellings, however, whether these teeth were practical, decorative, or spiritual is not known. The inhabitants of An-ho were most likely Dabenkeng people.
“The Dabenkeng people were the first farmers in Taiwan, who may have come from the south and southeast coasts of China about 5,000 years ago,” says Chengwha Tsang of Taiwan’s Academia Sinica. “This culture is the earliest Neolithic culture so far found in Taiwan.” (Drake, 2016) Taiwanese Dabenkeng culture featured corded ware pottery and stone adzes.
While the Dabenkeng lasted until the 3rd millennium BC on Mainland China, Taiwanese Dabenkeng lasted only until around 4,500 BC. Yet from Taiwan, the Dabenkeng spread across Southeast Asia and Oceania, bringing their culture and language with them. “They were probably the earliest ancestors of the Austronesian language-speaking people living nowadays in Taiwan and on the islands of the Pacific,” said Tsang (Drake, 2016).
The Touching Find of the Mother and Baby
At An-ho, 48 graves were discovered, among them were five children. Most interesting of all was the shared grave of a mother looking down at a baby cradled in her arms. It is not clear how they died.
“The young mother holding the baby surprised us most,” said team leader Chu Whei-Lee. “I guess they were buried under the house by their loved ones,” she adds, although more evidence is needed to support that idea (Drake, 2016). “When it was unearthed, all of the archaeologists and staff members were shocked. Why? Because the mother was looking down at the baby in her hands,” said Chu Whei-lee (Hamacher, 2016).
Further testing, including DNA analysis, of the mother and child as well of the other graves, is still ongoing. What we know already is that the mother was 5 feet 2 inches (160cm) tall and the baby was a foot and a half (50cm). Carbon dating puts their time of burial at about 4,800 years ago, putting them squarely in the island’s Stone Age. The bodies were interred in a typical north-south alignment. Unconventionally, they were laid on their backs (as opposed to being face down like the other graves at the site). Moreover, the mother’s face is titled to the right and downward so that she gazes upon the baby in her arms, even in skeleton form some 5000 years later.
Undoubtedly, this ancient maternal moment is what enabled the pair to become a modern-day viral sensation.
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Uncovering Ancient Pyramid Science At Teotihuacan, Where Men Become Gods
Teotihuacan’s Lost Kings, a television special, took an hour long look at the great city, its inhabitants, and the excavation of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, (also known as the Feathered Serpent Pyramid.) The program revealed evidence of advanced engineering built into a tunnel system, and placed directly underneath the Pyramid. As a team excavated the tunnels, viewers witnessed what must be considered the interior of an ancient generator, where combinations of chemical, mineral, water (and possible electromagnetic fields) were introduced into chambers, resulting in some form of energy. How and where this energy was delivered is still unknown, but based on the design of the complex, we can now speculate as to how the entire facility may have operated. (Note) that I have purposely called Teotihuacan a facility, as this is exactly what it was and not a city as many have speculated. Here’s their amazing discovery.
In 2003, Archaeologist Sergio Gomez was walking by the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, when he noticed a large crack in the ground approximately 20 feet (six meters) from the foot of the stairs. Recent rains had opened a surface area, leaving a noticeable divot and exposing tourists to possible injury. Gomez, who had worked at Teotihuacan for over 30 years, inspected the site and determined that something curious lay underneath. Teotihuacan is considered an archaeological park and most archaeologists know that every square foot of land can hold artifacts and important evidence to the past history of the area.
Gomez, a member of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), received permission to investigate the area, and later that year assembled a team of experts who began carefully removing surface debris. Archaeological excavation is a slow process and as they worked their way down they uncovered a round shaft, similar to a well, perfectly crafted of cement and stone.
Unknowingly, they’d uncovered the main access point to the original design of the complex that dropped down over 40 feet (12 meters). As they descended down into the shaft which opened into a cavern, they cleared over 400 tons of dirt, debris and portions of discarded buildings, carefully looking for artifacts.
Once in the cavern they noticed the space had been carefully cut out of solid bedrock and opened into a large tunnel. Before the team began removing the debris that blocked entry to the tunnel, Gomez had the space laser-scanned to determine its depth and other clues to its formation. The scans returned images of a precisely cut tunnel that ran more than 330 feet (100 meters) under the pyramid. The scans also revealed odd pockets or small repositories that dropped down from the main shaft and which had the appearance of small rooms.
As the team began to excavate the tunnel, they made the first of many discoveries of artifacts and tools left by those they reasoned were the builders. At the 100-foot mark (30 meters), over 50,000 artifacts were recovered; leading the team to consider a royal tomb was close by.
Strange Pyrite Spheres Discovered
The excavation team also found the first of a number of chemical and mineral deposits buried in the dirt. Hundreds of golden spheres were uncovered in various states of decomposition. They were composed of Pyrite (Fool’s Gold) and a mixture of adobe and crushed rock.
Gomez had also noticed that the walls were covered in pyrite, which gave off a strange glow-in-the-dark effect in the unlit portions of the tunnel. Careful to check the remaining area, Gomez requested another laser scan of the tunnel to determine what lay ahead. To his surprise the shafts ended in a cross-shaped enclosure, the center positioned directly under the highest point of the pyramid.
As of this writing, the excavation continues in an attempt to discover a royal tomb, but there are a number of critical discoveries which point to the actual purpose of the tunnel system. First, it’s believed the artifacts and offerings were left by the people who rediscovered Teotihuacan over 1,800 years ago and had nothing to do with the original design of the system. A number of important clues offer us a glimpse of the original intent of the pyramid complex and other components which make up this discovery.
Geomagnetic Fields and Pyramids
Recent discoveries in ancient pyramid engineering have suggested that a large number were designed as some form of energy generators by different cultures around the world. In some locations, including Central and South America, construction techniques appear to have been shared. John Burke, a businessman and scientist, made an important discovery on pyramid electromagnetic energy in 2005. Burke had detected geo-magnetic discharge at a number of North American and European megalithic and mound sites, including Stonehenge, The Serpent Mound in Ohio, and a variety of smaller stone enclosures up and down the eastern coastlines. Using state-of-the-art scanning equipment, including a Magnetometer and Electrostatic Voltmeter, he was able to determine that each location had been chosen because of its naturally occurring telluric energy field that pulsed up and into the structure or surrounding area.
What these sites were used for is anyone’s guess, but we now understand that they may have a positive effect on human physiology and greatly enhanced crop seeds. What’s baffling is how the builders knew how to find the telluric fields without scanning equipment?
Sensing there might be more to electromagnetic energy enhancement, Burke begins scanning pyramid complexes in Central America which were designed with a high level of precision. He would eventually learn about a specific pyramid at Tikal, an ancient Maya city in Guatemala, which was used by the local farmers to enhance their seeds. Known as the The Mundo Perdido (Spanish for “Lost World“) Pyramid, and considered one of the oldest pyramids in the entire complex (600 BC). Burke and his research partner Kaj Halberg discovered electro-magnetic signatures that measured impressive charges on top of the pyramid. In a series of scans, the readings showed an average change of 908 volts over a short period of time, which was concentrated in the early morning hours. Burke mentions the readings and states, “These voltages might sound lethal and if it were a household current they could be. However, static electric charge in the air is a different type of electricity and even a thousand volts is not dangerous.” His discovery of pyramid field generation is fascinating, but what he actually uncovered was a means of generating and perhaps distributing electromagnetic energy within a pyramid complex.
What we don’t know about the Lost World Pyramid is if it has other components built into its construction, similar to the Pyramid of the Serpent. We now understand that at a number of Maya pyramids there are key components designed into their construction that act as magnifiers. These components appear to be important in the creation, magnification and distribution of telluric fields:
- Water, either moving naturally including rivers or cenotes (found at El Castillo at Chichen Itza) or by artificial canals or tunnels, similar to the Temple of Inscription found at Palenque.)
- Geo-magnetic fields. Naturally formed telluric fields that have high and low period throughout day and night.
- Pyramid design. The specific pyramid shape appears to greatly enhance the telluric fields that pulse up and into the center of the chamber.
- Pyramid interior fill. At a number of pyramids, rocks that are good electromagnetic conductors fill the interior of the pyramids and are used to enhance the pulsing field. Rocks that have veins with quartz, granite, and other electrical conducting properties appear to be favoured.
The chemical and mineral discoveries that Gomez made at Pyramid of the Serpent have many of the same properties found at Maya pyramid locations, with a few twists.
What Made the Pyramid Run?
As Gomez and his team were excavating the tunnel, they discovered water marks high up on the wall. The mark runs the entire length of the tunnel, indicating the space would constantly fill with water. The marks are almost black and appear to have been etched with some chemical concentrate.
The transportation of water was delivered through the stone well shaft from the surface and directed to flow over specific regions of the tunnel.
Recent discoveries of mineral and chemical residue and the design of the well shaft, cavern, and tunnel system, allow one to conclude that the underground system was designed to create some type of discharge which may have taken place in the small chamber that leads to the main cross shape configuration at the end of the tunnel.
This discovery of water, minerals and chemicals has never been a consideration of Gomez or the other archaeologists whose main goal is excavating the tunnel. In the last few years, the following chemicals and mineral combinations have been uncovered in large quantities throughout the tunnel system. Pyrite and pools of Mercury have been uncovered, and a few years ago, Radon gas was detected passing through a number of areas of the tunnels, requiring workers to wear protective breathing gear. If you combine these elements and a geomagnetic telluric field, the effect may be many times what was detected by Burke at the Lost World pyramid. This is a profound discovery. An ancient, unknown science designed to create energy directed up and into the pyramid is fascinating to consider and must be analysed further. Unfortunately, we’re left with more questions than answers. Who were the builders of Teotihuacan?
This article (Uncovering Ancient Pyramid Science At Teotihuacan, Where Men Become Gods) was originally created for Ancient Origins and is published here under Creative Commons.
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Where’s Cleo? Experts May Have Found Location Of Cleopatra’s Tomb
Paul Seaburn, Guest Writer
In 2019, a well-known Egyptian archaeologist revealed that he believed he had found the lost tomb of Cleopatra, the Queen of the Nile, whose tomb and sarcophagus are the stuff of legends, myths, rumours and hoaxes. This was the real thing, he assured. All he needed was the one thing all big-time archaeologists in Egypt need. That showed up this year when a TV crew from the Science Channel arrived to dig where he marked the spot and announce the results in a cable special. The show will be aired soon and the hints are dropping like balloons at a political convention. Did they find the tomb? Is Cleopatra in it? How about the asp? Who will play them in the movie?
“In Egypt, on the edge of the Nile delta, a massive archaeological dig is underway as experts search for the tomb of Egypt’s most famous pharaoh. A new theory about Cleopatra’s burial ground introduced by archaeologist Dr. Kathleen Martinez, suggests her tomb may be found in a place known as Taposiris Magna.”
A Science Channel press release reveals the general location — Taposiris Magna, about 30 miles (18 km) from Alexandria – and the star of the show (besides Cleo, of course) — archaeologist Dr. Kathleen Martinez. You may remember just one paragraph ago that the archaeologist was referred to as “he.” In early 2019, Egyptian archaeologist and former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs Dr. Zahi Hawass announced during a conference at the University of Palermo that HE had found the location of the tomb in Taposiris Magna – a location he’d long suspected. At that time, this writer noted that Dr. Kathleen Martínez has claimed since 2002 that Cleopatra and Marc Antony are buried in Taposiris Magna, possibly in the same complex as the famous Tomb of Osiris, the ancient Egyptian god of the dead.
Two Egyptian tomb experts both claiming to know the location of Cleopatra’s tomb. How did the Science Channel decide which one would get the funding to dig it out and star in the series? Not to sound cynical, but one hint might come from the fact that Dr. Martinez is much more – shall we say “photogenic” – than Dr. Hawass. After all, this IS television. Less cynically, the producers may have determined that Dr. Martinez was first and the site looked promising. In any case, we won’t know until the show airs on June 21 at 8 pm ET/PT on the Science Channel.
In the meantime, there’s the hints.
“Built over 2,000 years ago, the grounds of Taposiris Magna are honeycombed with hidden passages and tombs. When experts astonishingly uncover an undisturbed tomb decorated in gold leaf, it could be the answer to the 2,000-year-old mystery of Cleopatra’s final resting place.”
“The special will follow experts’ meticulous archaeology and the cutting-edge technology to reveal the secrets of Cleopatra’s life. Their findings revolutionize our understanding of who she was and how she lived.”
Did they find Cleo? Place your bets. Who will play Cleopatra in the movie? Lady Gaga says she wants the role. Maybe she could play Cleo AND Dr. Martinez in a weird juxtaposition. One more reason to be glad it’s not Dr. Hawass. (Sorry, Doc.)
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About the Author
Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as “The Tonight Show”, “Politically Incorrect” and an award-winning children’s program. He’s been published in “The New York Times” and “Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humour. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humour to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn’t always have to be serious.
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