Temporal range: Late Cretaceous
Artist Illustration of Phosphatodraco mauritanicus
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Sauropsida
Order: Pterosauria
Family: Azhdarchidae
Genus: Phosphatodraco
Pereda-Suberbiola, 2003
Type species
Phosphatodraco mauritanicus
Pereda-Suberbiola, 2003

Phosphatodraco, meaning "phosphate dragon"was a Late Cretaceous azhdarchid that lived in what is now Morocco. It was moderately sized with an estimated wingspan of 5 m. It has quite poor fossil representation with only five neck vertebrae and an unknown bone applied to it.

Despite this, Phosphatodraco sticks out from other azhdarchids for two reasons. Firstly, this pterosaur was found in Africa, which is a hard place to find pterosaurs in general due to the high possibility of wind erosion. Second, it had quite a long neck even for an azhdarchid, which already had long necks. If the guess of azhdarchids hunting like storks is correct, then this adaptation furthered its ability to snatch small creatures without much movement.


Phosphatodraco, as its name suggests, was found in a phosphate mine, and the only creature to be found in this mine, so no one really knows what species lived alongside it. However, it is probable that this species was a descendant of the much larger Alanqa, which also lived in what is now Morocco earlier in the Cretaceous. It went extinct with the rest of the pterosaurs in the KT extinction.


Phosphatodraco is based on holotype OCP DEK/GE 111, found in 2000, which is composed of five associated, though disarticulated and compressed, damaged cervical vertebrae and a bone of unknown origin. The cervical vertebrae are thought to be a series from the fifth (the longest with a length of 30 centimeters (12 in)) to the ninth. The individual to which the neck belonged would have had a wingspan of about 5 meters (16.4 feet). It is unusual among azhdarchids for having elongate vertebrae at the base of the neck (also with neural spines), interpreted as modified dorsal vertebrae; the neck is also one of the most complete known for azhdarchids. It was one of the last pterosaurs before the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event that finished off the group, and is the first azhdarchid found in northern Africa.

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