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Ikdrandraco ("Ikran dragon," after the flying creatures from Avatar); pronounced EE-krahn-DRAY-coe
Rivers and lakes of Asia
Early Cretaceous (120 million years ago)
Size and Weight
About 30 inches long and a few pounds
Moderate size; distinctive bill structure; possible throat patch for holding fish
Ikrandraco is an odd choice to honor the Ikran, or "mountain banshees," of Avatar: this early Cretaceous pterosaur was only about two and a half feet long and a few pounds, whereas the Ikran from the hit movie are majestic, horse-sized, flying creatures that the Na'vi ride into battle against their human antagonists. Once you get past its name, though, Ikrandraco avatar may have been a truly unique pterosaur: some paleontologists claim that it had a pouch on the underside of its distinctively shaped bill in which it stored recently caught fish, which would make it similar to the modern pelican.
However, not everyone is convinced by this putative anatomical feature of Ikrandraco (made of soft tissue, a throat pouch would have no chance of surviving in the fossil record), nor by the hypothesis that this pterosaur skimmed over the surface of lakes and trapped wiggling prey in its submerged lower jaw. The fact is that it can be difficult to infer the everyday behavior of a 120-million-year-old reptile by analogy with modern birds, and the possibility remains that Ikrandraco fed in more conventional fashion, like other pterosaurs of the early Cretaceous period, simply diving into the water and swallowing its fill of fish.