Quetzalcoatlus is an azhdarchid pterosaur known from the Late Cretaceous of North America (Maastrichtian stage) and one of the largest known flying animals of all time. It is a member of the family Azhdarchidae, a family of advanced toothless pterosaurs with unusually long, stiffened necks. Its name comes from the Mesoamerican feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl. Quetzalcoatlus will be in the video game Saurian.


When it was first discovered, scientists estimated that the largest Quetzalcoatlus fossils came from an individual with a wingspan as large as 15.9 meters (52 feet), choosing the middle of three extrapolations from the proportions of other pterosaurs that gave an estimate of 11, 15.5 and 21 meters respectively (36 feet, 50.85 feet, 68.9 feet). In 1981, further study lowered these estimates to 11–12 meters (36–39 ft). More recent estimates based on greater knowledge of azhdarchid proportions place its wingspan at 10–11 meters (33–36 ft). While some studies have historically found extremely low weight estimates for Quetzalcoatlus, as low as 70 kilograms (150 lb) for a 10-meter (32-foot-10-inch) individual, a majority of estimates published since the 2000s have been higher, around 200–250 kilograms (440–550 lb).

Skull material (from smaller specimens, possibly a related species) shows that Quetzalcoatlus had a very sharp and pointed beak. That is contrary to some earlier reconstructions that showed a blunter snout, based on the inadvertent inclusion of jaw material from another pterosaur species, possibly a tapejarid or a form related to Tupuxuara. A skull crest was also present but its exact form and size are still unknown.

Azhdarchids were likely terrestrial stalkers, similar to modern storks, and probably hunted small vertebrates on land or in small streams. Though Quetzalcoatlus, like other pterosaurs, was a quadruped when on the ground, Quetzalcoatlus and other azhdarchids have fore and hind limb proportions more similar to modern running ungulate mammals than to their smaller cousins, implying that they were uniquely suited to a terrestrial lifestyle. In 2010, Donald Henderson argued that the mass of Q. northropi had been underestimated, even the highest estimates, and that it was too massive to have achieved powered flight. He estimated it in his 2010 paper as 540 kg. Henderson argued that it may have been flightless. However, most other flight capability estimates have disagreed with Henderson's research, suggesting instead an animal superbly adapted to long-range, extended flight. In 2010, Mike Habib, a professor of biomechanics at Chatham University, and Mark Witton, a British paleontologist, undertook further investigation into the claims of flightlessness in large pterosaurs. After factoring wingspan, body weight, and aerodynamics, a computer model led the two researchers to conclude that Q. northropi was capable of flight "up to 80 miles an hour for 7 to 10 days at altitudes of 15,000 feet". Mike Habib further suggested a maximum flight range of 8,000 to 12,000 miles forQ. northropi. Henderson's work was further criticized by Habib, who pointed out that although Henderson used excellent mass estimations, they were based on outdated pterosaur models, and that anatomical study of Q. northropi and other large pterosaur forelimbs show a higher degree of robustness than would be expected if they were purely quadrupedal. Habib believes that large pterosaurs most likely utilized a short burst of powered flight in order to then transition to thermal soaring.

Although Quetzalcoatlus has no evidence of hair-like filaments known as pycnofibres, its' likely that due to phylogenetics from creatures like Scaphognathus, Jeholopterus, and Sordes, all pterosaurs, including Quetzalcoatlus had pycnofibres all over their body.

Physical appearance Edit

Quetzalcoatlus is portrayed with pycnofibres. Its' color is dark brown, black and white, and tan wings to match its' habitat.

Behind The Scenes Edit

Quetzalcoatlus concept

Older design

The Quetzalcoatlus used have a different appearance from older concept art. It had a more orange beak and brown plumage that was not as dark. It's neck was covered in long thick pycnofibres. It's neck stance was also much lower to the ground, though this could have been because it was swallowing a Champsosaurus.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hell Creek: A Field Guide to the World of Saurian

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