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Quetzalcoatlus
Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Superorder Dinosauria
Order Pterosauria
Suborder Pterodactyloidea
Superfamily Azhdarchoidea
Family Azhdarchidae
Genus Quetzalcoatlus
1st Species Quetzalcoatlus northropi
Other attributes
Time Range 68-66 mya
Location United States of America
Name Meaning Feathered deity
Physical Dimensions 10.5 meter wingspan
Weight 250 kilograms
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Quetzalcoatlus is an azhdarchid pterosaurian reptile from the Late Cretaceous of the United States of America. It was named in 1975 by Douglas A. Lawson. It was one of the biggest pterosaurs, and was originally thought to have a 15 meter wingspan; however, scientists now agree that its wingspan was 4.5 meters shorter.

PhysiologyEdit

Quetzalcoatlus was a unique pterosaur. Like most pterosaurs, it had 4 legs (2 of which served as wings) and a small body, as well as 4 fingers on each hand (one of which was elongated and supported the wing membrane); however, it also had long legs, a long, stiffened neck, a short crest, a short tail, and a long, toothless beak. Most of its body (excluding its beak, crest, and wings) would have been covered in a fur-like covering called pycnofibers.

DietEdit

Quetzalcoatlus was a predator, preying on fish, amphibians, lizards, small mammals, and small dinosaurs. Its long neck and long, toothless beak were similar to that of a stork, and so, it is presumed that it ate in a similar manner to the modern bird, striding up to prey before snatching them up with its beak.

EcologyEdit

Quetzalcoatlus was once thought to be a vulture-like scavenger that fed on carrion, before being hypothesized as an obligate piscivore, skimming through the water to catch fish in its long beak. However, these 2 hypotheses have now been disproved; Quetzalcoatlus was found far from the seashore, and its neck and beak were different from that of any skimming animal, so it was confirmed to be a terrestrial stalker, often strutting up to unsuspecting vertebrates before lunging down headfirst, grabbing its prey in its beak, and swallowing it whole. As well as this, it was considered to be capable of flapping/soaring flight (often flying at undescribed speeds), before being thought to be flightless. Once again, this hypothesis has been disproved, as computer studies concluded that it was capable of flying at the speed of a (horizontally-flying) golden eagle, and would have taken to the air with a series of flaps before transitioning to soaring.

In popular cultureEdit

Due to documentaries like Walking with Dinosaurs, March of the Dinosaurs, and Clash of the Dinosaurs, Quetzalcoatlus has soared to a great height among popular pterosaurs, only being overshadowed by Rhamphorhynchus and Pteranodon. In popular pieces of media like these, it is either shown as a coastal piscivore, a vulture-esque scavenger, or an eagle-esque aerial predator (in this case, none of these depictions are accurate).

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