March 16, 2018 - 16:32 AMT
Giant pterodactyl with a wingspan similar to F-16 fighter discovered

Experts at the University of Bath have discovered that a giant pterodactyl with a wingspan similar to an F-16 fighter jet soared above North Africa 66 million years ago, SomersetLive reports.

The creature with a 30 foot wingspan is among six new species of the prehistoric flying reptiles unveiled by a British led team of scientists.

Pterodactyls, also known as pterosaurs, were cousins of the dinosaurs and glided above their heads on wings made of skin supported by a single huge finger.

They were the largest animals ever to take to the air and the remarkable discovery shows they were wiped out in their prime.

Pterodactyls were previously thought to be declining before the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous, caused by an asteroid impact 66 million years ago.

The new pterosaurs ranged in wingspan from a little over two metres to almost ten (six to 30 feet), almost three times bigger than the largest living bird, the wandering albatross.

They weighed up to 200 kg (440lbs). A NATO F-16 would be just five feet wider.

The biggest, named, Arambourgiania, would have had a wingspan more than three times that of Alcione, the smallest.

Photo. AP/Itsuo Inouye