The Largest Flying Animal

The Largest Flying Animal

Quetzalcoatlus northropi which may have weighed more than 200kg with a wingspan of 11 meters, is the largest flying animal of all time.

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Quetzalcoatlus dominated the skies of North America at the end of the Dinosaur Age and flew high over such famous creatures as Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. As tall as a giraffe, the biggest Quetzalcoatlus species were also the largest of all flying creatures. They were the ultimate in pterosaur evolution.

The pterosaurs or flying reptiles produced some of the largest flying creatures ever known. The largest and most famous of these aerial titans was Quetzalcoatlus. Named after a Mesoamerican deity, Quetzalcoatlus is the most famous member of the azhdarchids, a family of pterosaurs limited to the Cretaceous period, the time between 144 and 66 million years ago.

In other words, the family spanned the entirety of the Cretaceous, a period of roughly 80 million years. These pterosaurs were all very large animals with long, pointed skulls and some had short crests at the backs of their heads. They had very long necks, small torsos, long legs, and a short pair of wings in proportion to their bodies. All these animals were known to be predatory, although for a long time it was not known how they searched for prey.

For a while, Quetzalcoatlus and kin were cast in the light of giant vultures that scavenged the carcasses of dinosaurs. This conclusion was reached by the fact that unlike other large pterosaurs such as the crested Pteranodon, Quetzalcoatlus fossils were found inland. They were also thought to have been skimmers, hunting for fish over freshwater systems.

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