Scientists discovered its fossilised bones in Mexico. Details of the pterosaur - the first animals with backbones to fly - emerged at the British Association's Science Festival in Dublin, where it was described by David Martill of Portsmouth University from work carried out by Dino Frey of the State Museum for Natural History in Karlsruhe.
Only fragments of wing bones have been found but from their dimensions the individual must have had a wingspan of 18 metres (59ft), Dr Martill said. The largest flying bird today is the wandering albatross with a wingspan of about 11ft 6in. Dr Martill said: "Pterosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, they left no descendants." Pterosaurs could walk on four legs using the "knuckles" of their hands.
They flew with the help of a membrane, half a millimetre thick, between their neck, tail and wings. "Exceptional tissue preservation shows this was a sophisticated structure. It wasn't just a piece of skin," he said.