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The Flying Reptile Thread- Anything pterosaur related

24

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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Rubecula wrote: »
    According to mathematics a bumble bee can't fly, and nothing bigger than a swan can fly and ... and ....

    Basically we know these creatures existed and we know they flew, and we know they were fairly successful. We should not be looking at problems in their existence, but looking at why they were as successful as they were. Who knows they may have been hunting T Rex rather than the other way around. I tend to think they were more likely to be like vultures or condors. Possibly hunters but mostly scavengers.

    Maybe marabou storks would be a better comparison? Having a more similar beak and body structure, kiiiiinda....

    marabou-stork-leptoptilos-crumeniferus-afkj7t4951.jpg

    WbHsLugUAn-flying_dinosaur-pterosaur-_Quetzalcoatlus.jpg

    Ah, I almost forgot; here's a video of a Tapejara (mistakenly said to be Quetzalcoatlus in the video description, and also dubbed a "giant dinosaur") taking off and landing. Very different from the pole-vault take off we had been seeing lately.

    http://www.livescience.com/24634-a-giant-dinosaur-s-awkward-takeoff-and-landing-video.html


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,551 ✭✭✭ Rubecula


    I thought came to me as I watched that video (excellent bit of work by the way Adam) Who is to know how far these things actually flew for? A hundred yards or so to get out of danger or vast thousands of miles journeys?


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Rubecula wrote: »
    I thought came to me as I watched that video (excellent bit of work by the way Adam) Who is to know how far these things actually flew for? A hundred yards or so to get out of danger or vast thousands of miles journeys?

    Well, they (azhdarchids) were found in many parts of the world including islands such as Hateg (modern Romania) which would suggest they could fly long distances even over the ocean... I remember reading a study (was it posted here? I don´t remember) about how large pterosaurs were physically capable of travelling incredible distances in very little time.

    Pteranodon and nyctosaurs were certainly long distance fliers as they are often found in fossil deposits that were once open sea- they were supossedly a lot like albatrosses and similar birds that spend most of their time on the wing (or on the sea surface) and return to land only to breed.
    Nyctosaurs may have been the most albatross-like as they even lack wing fingers meaning they probably walked very little (they also have incredibly long wings for their size).

    I wonder if we'll find pterosaurs with unmistakable adaptations to a flightless or nearly-flightless lifestyle one day... I remember reading that there was a specimen of pterosaur whose proportions had made some scientists believe it was flightless but it was later debunked.


  • Registered Users Posts: 30,746 ✭✭✭✭ Galvasean


    A controversial study by Japanese researchers (IIRC) said that the giant azhdarchids could not fly. Pretty sure it was debunked very quickly.
    Tetrapod Zoology guy wrote an interesting speculative 'what if?' piece about what they would be like if they survived into modern times:
    http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2008/10/21/kaloo-modern-flightless-azhdarchid/


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,551 ✭✭✭ Rubecula


    If they had lasted I think we would have made use of them much like we have done with horses (and other beasts of burden)

    We may not have even invented aeroplanes, or else invented them a lot sooner.?

    DinoRidersSeries3Pic2.jpg


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Rubecula wrote: »
    If they had lasted I think we would have made use of them much like we have done with horses (and other beasts of burden)

    We may not have even invented aeroplanes, or else invented them a lot sooner.?

    DinoRidersSeries3Pic2.jpg

    Except that unlike horses, these guys were carnivorous... and potentially capable of eating a small human :eek:

    I wonder what would we think of marabou storks (storks in general I guess) if they didn´t exist today and we knew them only by their fossils. I can totally see scientists suggesting that they were fligthless based on their weird proportions and large size:

    2936539255_e6fc20515e.jpg


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Small pterosaur from the late Cretaceous of Canada

    Suggests birds did not outcompete smaller pterosaurs as has often been said. I always expected this to be found eventually;

    http://www.sci-news.com/paleontology/small-bodied-pterosaur-canada-04148.html


    image_4148_1e-Azhdarchid-Pterosaur.jpg


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Allkauren, a new Jurassic pterosaur from Argentina

    http://www.sci-news.com/paleontology/allkauren-koi-argentina-04145.html
    image_4145_1e-Allkauren-koi.jpg

    Shows intermediate traits between long-tailed rhamphorhynchoids and short-tailed pterodactyls.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor




  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    A variety of new pterosaurs from Morocco

    Including pteranodontids and nyctosaurids. Mostly just fragments.
    http://www.eartharchives.org/articles/pterosaurs-maintained-high-diversity-until-the-end/
    Interesting graphic tho. Avisaurus is pretty impressive for a Mesozoic bird. Looks about eagle-sized!
    journal.pbio.2001663.g020


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    "Dracula", the largest, most powerful pterosaur ever found

    It was found in Transylvania, hence the nickname. Didn´t suck blood, but it was certainly big enough to eat a full sized human and had bones so robust it was thought to be a dinosaur at first. It belongs to the same family as Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx but is said to be a new species, and known from more complete remains (at last!). 

    https://www.thelocal.de/20180323/worlds-largest-pterodachtyl-dracula-museum-altmuehltal

    main_900.jpg?1521827049


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor




  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 84,720 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Capt'n Midnight


    200-million year old Pterosaur 'built for flying'

    https://phys.org/news/2018-08-million-year-pterosaur-built.html

    5-newspeciesof.jpg
    Caelestiventus hanseni—roughly, "heavenly wind"—is probably the most complete skeletal remains of a pterosaur ever found.

    "Most pterosaurs bones look like road-kill," Britt told AFP, noting that there are only 30-odd specimens worldwide from the Triassic period which lasted some 51 million years.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45171201
    It's a trifecta: a Triassic pterosaur from a new place, preserved in an immaculate way, and found in rocks from an environment that we didn't think they lived in so early during their evolution. What this means is that pterosaurs were already geographically widespread and thriving in a variety of environments very early in their evolution.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Regional East Moderators, Regional Midlands Moderators, Regional Midwest Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators, Regional North Mods, Regional West Moderators, Regional South East Moderators, Regional North East Moderators, Regional North West Moderators, Regional South Moderators Posts: 8,366 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Fathom


    Delta winged (somewhat) Triassic pterosaur? Wish we could see it fly and dive for prey.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Do check out the skull of this beauty!



  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor




  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    This Pteranodon was eaten by giant fish

    Tooth marks from both a shark (Squalicorax) and a barracuda-like fish (Saurodon) were found on this Pteranodon fossil.

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/prehistoric-sharks-chowed-down-pterosaurs-180970476/

    i0883-1351-33-9-414-f04.jpeg


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Clues reveal how baby pterosaurs grew up

    https://www.livescience.com/63871-how-pterosaurs-grew-up.html

    flat,1000x1000,075,f.jpg


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Very impressive reconstruction of one of the largest flying animals known!

    https://news.umich.edu/giant-pterosaur-flies-into-u-m-museum-of-natural-history/

    giant-pterosaur-flies-into-u-m-museum-of-natural-history-98.jpg

    giant-pterosaur-flies-into-u-m-museum-of-natural-history-34.jpg

    giant-pterosaur-flies-into-u-m-museum-of-natural-history-78.jpg

    giant-pterosaur-flies-into-u-m-museum-of-natural-history-19.jpg

    Here's other Quetzalcoatlus models made by the same company:

    3w8pg7t867g01.jpg?width=640&crop=smart&auto=webp&bb100e1b

    tumblr_ozq84dEVAv1sksokyo4_1280.jpg


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor




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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Technology reveals pterosaur's hidden soft parts, confirms early theories

    When a German paleontologist described the Jurassic pterosaur Scaphognathus, he suggested it was covered on some sort of fur, and drew the first life reconstruction of a prehistoric animal in its environment, but his work was largely ignored. Now technology confirms what he saw back in 1831:

    https://palaeo-electronica.org/content/2018/2308-scaphognathus-in-rti-and-uv

    4.+Scaphognathus+fossil+cast.jpg


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,575 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs


    The right Mark 1 Human Eyeball can still be an extremely accurate and valuable tool. The drawing made all those years ago looks remarkably accurate even today.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    New Coloborhynchus species from the Kem Kem fossil site

    This is one of the known Spinosaurus fossil sites. Coloborhynchus is very similar to Tropeognathus, and it may be that they are really the same genus. This is the pterosaur made famous by Walking with Dinosaurs, and the largest toothed pterosaur known; some species such as T. messembrinus reached a wingspan of over 8 meters, being as large or larger than Pteranodon itself, and smaller only than azhdarchids such as Quetzalcoatlus.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195667118303549

    Coloborhynchus.JPG

    1-areplicaofth.jpg


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Pterosaur trackway found in Poland. Apparently the trackmakers were large for Jurassic standards.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031018218310162

    ki3cany0bndlxwb6nv3b.jpg


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Baby pterosaurs could fly from birth

    Unlike the vast majority of birds, it appears at least some pterosaurs were on their own from the moment they hatched.

    https://www.heritagedaily.com/2019/06/baby-pterodactyls-could-fly-from-birth/123960

    nemicolopterus_chris-masnaghetti.png?w=2000&fm=jpg&auto=compress


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Seazzadactylus, a new Triassic pterosaur. Unusual teeth apparently.

    https://peerj.com/articles/7363/

    fig-7-1x.jpg


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Regional East Moderators, Regional Midlands Moderators, Regional Midwest Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators, Regional North Mods, Regional West Moderators, Regional South East Moderators, Regional North East Moderators, Regional North West Moderators, Regional South Moderators Posts: 8,366 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Fathom


    Is the a threshold of weight to length of wingspan for flying reptiles? Wing composition a factor too (feathers? Or?). Shorter wingspans don't fly.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Fathom wrote: »
    Is the a threshold of weight to length of wingspan for flying reptiles? Wing composition a factor too (feathers? Or?). Shorter wingspans don't fly.

    There has been much debate about the limits of pterosaur size/flight ability. There was a time, for example, when the iconic Pteranodon (with a wingspan of about 7 m) was believed to be the absolute limit for any flying creature.

    large_naturalhistory1920_pteranodon.jpg

    Even then, there were plenty of scientists who refused to believe such an enormous animal was capable of powered flight; instead, they suggested that it would only glide by throwing itself from high cliffs, and that it would use the small claws on its wings to climb back up.

    Pteranodon was discovered in 1870 (being not only the largest pterosaur found at the time, but also the first found outside of Europe, and the first one known to have been toothless). It remained the largest known flying creature until 1971, when an even bigger pterosaur was found in Texas:

    q-wing05.jpg

    This one was named Quetzalcoatlus and assumed to have similar proportions to Pteranodon, which gave it a wingspan of 12-15 m. So Pteranodon was apparently not the upper limit for flying animals after all.

    Quetzalcoatlus also posed an interesting puzzle. Pteranodon was thought to glide over sea currents like an albatross, and it was believed that these very particular conditions were what had allowed it to become so large. But Quetzalcoatlus came from inland deposits away from the sea, so this was an animal that flew over vast plains and forests, and presumably the terrain here was flat so, there were no cliffs to jump from.

    It also seemed rather unlikely that a pterosaur this size would survive among the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex without being able to take off from the ground. Scientists then suggested that Quetzalcoatlus was probably a scavenger that fed on the scraps of giant theropod's kills- like a giant vulture, despite the fact that it had a long, straight, edentulous jaw that didn´t seem particularly well suited for dealing with large carcasses.

    As time went on, more complete remains of Quetzalcoatlus-like pterosaurs were found around the world, allowing for a better understanding of its anatomy. It turns out, Quetzalcoatlus was part of a family- known as the azhdarchids ("dragons"), which had proportionally short wings, incredibly elongated necks and huge heads, and were seemingly better suited for walking and perhaps even running on the ground than other pterosaurs. Pteranodon, for example, with its tiny hind legs and extremely long wings, would've been capable but not particularly agile on the ground. Quetzalcoatlus and its azhdarchid kin however seemed well prepared for a mostly terrestrial lifestyle.

    71uXaqHo9eL._SY450_.jpg

    This has led to our current concept of azhdarchids as predators of small to medium-sized prey, caught not on the wing but by walking, like modern day marabou storks or ground hornbills. The relatively short wings and very long neck and beak do resemble those of said birds.

    Naturally some paleontologists have expressed doubts that such weirdly proportioned giants were flyers at all, but they are a minority. The fact that the pterosaurs coexisted with the likes of tyrannosaurs and dromeosaurs, and that azhdarchids were found all across the globe (including places that were islands during the Cretaceous), does suggest that they must have been able to fly, even if they spend the majority of their time on the ground.

    Life_restoration_of_a_group_of_giant_azhdarchids%2C_Quetzalcoatlus_northropi%2C_foraging_on_a_Cretaceous_fern_prairie.png

    Of course, the relatively short wing model means that even Quetzalcoatlus has been downsized from 12-15 m to about 9-11 m. Even then, it and other giant azhdarchids currently have no rivals among flying creatures.

    quetzalcoatlus-size.jpg

    I personally don´t think there's anything weird about azhdarchids being able to fly even with those strange proportions. Many birds today have such huge heads and necks that you wouldn´t think, by looking at their skeletons, that they would be able to fly, yet we see them do it all the time.

    172413-694-1000.jpg

    default.jpg

    I think maybe weight would be a more important factor when limiting the flying capabilities of giant pterosaurs. Despite its great size, Quetzalcoatlus had relatively light bones. Its weight is estimated at about 200-250 kg, which is a very large animal in absolute terms, but paperweight when you consider it would be about the size of a giraffe when standing on all fours. An adult giraffe can weigh over 1 ton.

    aHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzAxNy84MDkvb3JpZ2luYWwvUXVldHotZ2lyYWZmZS0xMTA3MDYuSlBH

    On the other hand, some fragmentary remains from Romania seemingly come from much more robust azhdarchids. Since Romania was an island back then- known as Hateg island- populated by dwarved versions of mainland dinosaurs, and these giant azhdarchids are believed to have been the apex predators in such island, there is a possibility that they were flightless or nearly fightless, since they would face presumably no competition or threat from giant theropods, and there would be no need to fly anymore. But we need more complete skeletons to be sure.

    Until now, no pterosaur has been confirmed as flightless.

    As for wing composition, pterosaurs did not have feathers (or at least, flight feathers); their wings were composed by a single elongated digit (equivalent to our pinky), and a membrane of skin and muscle and other components (including unique fibres for strengthening and support, and a copious network of blood vessels). In some pterosaurs, even the respiratory system seemingly extended its air sacs into the wing membranes. Overall, the wing structure of all pterosaurs known thus far seems pretty consistent.

    So they weren´t like bird wings at all, and they were a lot more complex structurally than the simple kite-like structure imagined by early paleontologists.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators, Regional East Moderators, Regional Midlands Moderators, Regional Midwest Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators, Regional North Mods, Regional West Moderators, Regional South East Moderators, Regional North East Moderators, Regional North West Moderators, Regional South Moderators Posts: 8,366 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Fathom


    Giant pterosaurs. Wow! Picture a 1000 words.


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Adam Khor


    Iberodactylus, a new crested pterosaur from the early Cretaceous

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-41280-4

    Iberodactylus_andreui-novataxa_2019-Holgado_P%25C3%25AAgas_Canudo_et-al--%2540pterosaurios-paleoArt_%2540metazoastudio.jpg


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