(Gray News) - When a group of scientists came to the conclusion we’ve been calling a particular class of prehistoric winged, dragon-like pterosaurs by the wrong name, they had the perfect alternative.
They took inspiration from House Targaryen, a family of dragon riders from HBO’s fantasy series “Game of Thrones” and the main focus of the spinoff series “House of the Dragon.”
Paleontologist Rodrigo V. Pêgas, who conducted the study the lead to the reclassification, admitted to being a huge fan of the show, National Geographic reported.
As published in the journal Historical Biology, the new group bears the name Targaryendraconia. Its charter member, the Targaryendraco wiedenrothi, was discovered in 1984 by Kurt Wiedenroth in northern Germany near Hanover.
Reclassifications are not unheard of. After all, science and our understanding of the world continue to evolve.
Initially, researchers classified these pterosaurs as members of the Ornithocherius group. But time has proven this batch belonged in a class of their own.
These creatures sported a noticeably narrow jaw with teeth that protruded forward, unlike the Ornithocherius group. The fossils are noticeably darker in color, possibly because of the clay pit in which they were discovered.
These beasts couldn’t breathe fire. They didn’t forge iron thrones. And they certainly didn’t carry away their human mother to close out an unpopular death scene.
But they did fly. Scientists say they roamed the skies 150 million years ago with wings stretching anywhere between 10 and 26 feet.
Scientists stress pterosaurs are not dinosaurs. They are an extinct line of flying reptiles closely related to dinosaurs and birds, but not considered to be either, according to the American Museum of Natural History.
Six similar pterosaurs have been assigned to the Targaryendraconia class. They’ve all been discovered in coastal areas and probably fed on fish, Pêgas said.
And their reclassification creates what could be considered a full-circle moment. According to National Geographic, science-fictional portrayals of dragons had almost always been of four-legged creatures with two wings.
When George R.R. Martin created his world of Ice and Fire, which both HBO series are based on, he imagined anatomy that more closely resembles pterosaurs, with two legs and two wings.