Name of new flying dinosaur honours former Winton Mayor

Ferrodraco lentoni was named in honour of former mayor of Winton, Butch Lenton, who died in 2017.
Ferrodraco lentoni was named in honour of former mayor of Winton, Butch Lenton, who died in 2017.

A new dinosaur discovered by scientists at Winton's Australian Age of Dinosaurs has been named in honour of a well known former mayor who died in office in 2017.

Named Ferrodraco lentoni, the species name honours former Winton Shire mayor Graham "Butch" Lenton, for his years of service to the Winton community and in recognition for his support of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History.

The pterosaur specimen is also nicknamed 'Butch' in his honour, and will be on permanent public display at the Museum.

In 2017, in the banks of a creek on a remote property outside of Winton, local grazier Bob Elliott discovered parts of what would become the most complete pterosaur ever found in Australia.

He identified at the surface parts of the lower jaw, incomplete bones from the wing and a partial tooth.

Adele Pentland with some of the bones of the new find.

Adele Pentland with some of the bones of the new find.

Pterosaur fossils are quite rare in Australia, with fewer than 20 specimens reported. Their rarity is because of the hollow nature of their bones, as well as the relatively limited outcrop of Mesozoic rock within Australia. This pterosaur, represented by a single well-preserved specimen, would have been one of the top predators of the skies in the Winton area, 96 million years ago.

Adele Pentland from Swinburne University, the lead author of a study published in the journal Scientific Reports said the new species was more closely related to pterosaurs from England than to pterosaurs from South America.

"This supports the notion that these winged reptiles could easily disperse across oceans," Ms Pentland said.

"Ferrodraco also might represent a late-surviving member of the group of pterosaurs known as Anhangueria; however, more precise age constraints are needed for the type locality to prove this."

Ms Pentland said it had a wingspan of about four metres, which is pretty big compared to modern-day birds.

"Even though we didn't find the entire skull, we found most of the skull and we also found 40 teeth and two fragments at the site," she said.

"To see it walking around on the ground it would have walked on four legs and looked really different to any kind of animal we have today."

The news comes just months after 95-million-year old dinosaur tracks were found in WInton.

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs also unveiled the discovery of a new sauropod in 2017.

This story Meet Butch the newest flying dinosaur first appeared on The North West Star.