STL Science Center

STL Science Center

30 March 2012

King of the Flying Reptiles

Taken by myself at the Houston Museum of Science
Quetzalcoatlus northropi. Largest of the flying reptiles. Named for the feathered serpent god of Aztec tradition Quetzalcoatl, this giant has a wingspan as large as 36 feet. That wingspan is as large as many small planes. Weight has been estimated between 250 - 450 lbs for Quetzalcoatlus depending on the source and method used. Not much is agreed upon overall for the family Azhdarchidae, of which Quetzalcoatlus is a member.Another animal may be synonymous or another species of Quetzalcoatlus, but it seems the jury is still out or maybe just hung about whether or not Hatzegopteryx thambema is the same or a new species. The first specimens were found in Texas in 1971 by Douglas A. Lawson. The diet of these monsters was most likely fish and small animals, such as babies, that could be swallowed whole as they did not have toothed beaks. Lawson, in fact, rejects fish eating entirely in his studies of the reptile.

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