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Species of the month[edit]

Flying Pterosaur[edit]

Quetzalcoatlus northropi

Quetzalcoatlus northropi

Some facts about this pterosaur:

Wingspan: 10–11 meters.

Total length: 9–10 meters.

Weight: 200–250 kilograms.

Habitat: Some experts think these reptiles lived on open plains or wetlands, feeding much like large storks today. Others think they may have been feeding upon the carcasses of dinosaurs, like modern vultures. Older ideas that they fed on fish at sea like modern albatrosses are now discredited as structurally unworkable.

Age of existence: 70.6 to 65 million years ago.

Distribution: Fossils were discovered in North America (Texas).

Diet: Small vertebrates.

First described: By the geologist and paleontologist Douglas A. Lawson in 1975.

Can a giraffe-sized animal fly? Apparently it can! It's not a beast you're likely to spot today soaring over your head, yet flying reptiles of this size thrived for millions of years, until the mass extinction event of 65 million years ago wiped them out. Quetzalcoatlus northropi was one of the largest known flying animals of all time. It had an extremely long neck with slender, toothless jaws. The head was topped by a long bony crest. The fingers on the front edge of its wing carried sharp claws that were utilized to grip on prey. Having lacked the muscle power to take off by a rapid sprint, it probably launched into the air with a leap-frog maneuver, relying on all four limbs, or maybe it took off by dropping from the height of a cliff or tree. Its name is derived from the the Aztec feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl.

See also: Species of previous months