Quetzalcoatlus

Name: Quetzalcoatlus‭ (‬from Quetzalcoatl‭).
Phonetic: ‭K‬wet-zal-co-at-las.
Named By: Douglas A.‭ ‬Lawson‭ ‬-‭ ‬1975.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Vertebrata,‭ ‬Tetrapoda,‭ ‬Amniota,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Diapsida,‭ ‬Archosauria,‭ ‬Avemetatarsalia,‭ ‬Pterosauria,‭ ‬Pterodactyloidia,‭ ‬Azhdarchidae.
Species: Q.‭ ‬northropi.
Type: Carnivore.
Size: Estimated about 10-11 meter‭ wingspan.
Known locations: U.S.A.,‭ ‬Texas,‭ ‬Javelina Formation,‭ ‬Big Bend National Park.
Time period: Maastrichtian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Two specimens,‭ ‬one considerably smaller.

       Named after the‭ ‘‬feathered serpent‭’ ‬god of Mesoamerica,‭ ‬Quetzalcoatlus has really soared to the top among popular pterosaurs.‭ ‬When first discovered it was thought to have had a fifteen meter wingspan but further studies have reduced this estimate to eleven meters,‭ ‬although that‭’‬s still huge for a pterosaur.‭ ‬Another revision was the beak in that it has been learned that it terminated in a sharp point as opposed to the original blunt edge.
       How Quetzalcoatlus fed is open to much debate.‭ ‬Initially it was thought to be a scavenger,‭ ‬but the beak is not suited to the task of stripping flesh from a carcass as the beak did not close completely.‭ ‬The replacement hypothesis was that it skimmed across bodies of water,‭ ‬snatching fish out of the water with its beak as it flew overhead.‭ ‬Although plausible,‭ ‬when the theory was applied to a creature the size of Quetzalcoatlus it was found that it would be too far too much energy expenditure for it to be a viable method of feeding.‭
       A more likely scenario accepted now is that Quetzalcoatlus had a lifestyle similar to that of a stork,‭ ‬perhaps stalking small prey items like lizards and mammals in vegetative growth on the ground,‭ ‬or sitting at the edges of streams and rivers snatching fish and amphibians as they swam by.‭ ‬Such feeding strategies would require very little energy expenditure,‭ ‬making it easier for Quetzalcoatlus to maintain the calorie intake to fuel its body.

Further reading
- Cranial remains of Quetzalcoatlus (Pterosauria, Azhdarchidae) from Late Cretaceous sediments of Big Bend National Park, Texas. - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 16: 222–231. - A.W.A Kellner & W. Langston - 1996.
- Habitat and behavior of Quetzalcoatlus: paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the Javelina Formation (Upper Cretaceous), Big Bend National Park, Texas - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 18: 48A - T. Lehman & W. Langston Jr. - 1996.
- Did Pterosaurs Feed by Skimming? Physical Modelling and Anatomical Evaluation of an Unusual Feeding Method. - PLoS Biol, 5(8): e204 - S. Humphries, R. H. C. Bonser, M. P. Witton & D. M. Martill - 2007.
- A Reappraisal of Azhdarchid Pterosaur Functional Morphology and Paleoecology - PLoS ONE, 3(5): e2271. - M. P. Witton & D. Naish - 2008.
- On the Size and Flight Diversity of Giant Pterosaurs, the Use of Birds as Pterosaur Analogues and Comments on Pterosaur Flightlessness - PLoS ONE, 5(11): e13982. - M. P. Witton & M. B. Habib - 2010.
- Clipping the Wings of Giant Pterosaurs: Comments on Wingspan Estimations and Diversity - Acta Geoscientica Sinica, 31 Supp.1: 79-81 - M. P. Witton, D. M. Martill & R. F. Loveridge - 2010.



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