Quetzalcoatlus, a giant pterosaur
Quetzalcoatlus was one of the largest known flying animals of all time.
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The Quetzalcoatlus was a pterosaur, or prehistoric flying reptile, that existed in the Late Cretaceous, about 70-65 million years ago.
Its fossils were discovered in the 1970s. It was named after Quetzalcoatl, the Mesoamerican feathered serpent deity.
According to recent theories, although capable of flight, the Quetzalcoatlus spent most of its time on the ground. It used both its hind legs and forelegs for walking. The Quetzalcoatlus was a predator, it fed on small vertebrates.
Dimensions and anatomy
The Quetzalcoatlus had a huge head. Like all other giant pterosaurs, its beak did not contain teeth.
Its wings resembled those of bats. They were formed of a membrane of skin that stretched from the body to the front limbs and was attached to an elongated fourth finger. The Quetzalcoatlus had a wingspan of approximately 11 m, which is three times larger than that of the wandering albatross. Therefore, the Quetzalcoatlus is considered the largest flying animal that ever lived on Earth.
Compared to its size, its mass was relatively small at about 200-250 kg. The fossils revealed that, unlike other reptiles, Quetzalcoatlus' body was covered in fur.
The Quetzalcoatlus' skeleton was similar to that of birds in many respects: not only were its bones hollow, and therefore very light, but its flat breastbone was large enough for the flight muscles to attach to it.
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