Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prehistoric Reptile Could Fly 10,000 Miles

Lee Speigel - PFlying Pterosaurterosaurs -- those giant, fearsome flying creatures that lived eons ago -- could fly almost 10,000 miles at a clip, according to recent research.

Moviegoers have long been thrilled by pterosaurs -- from the Greek word, pterosauros, or "winged lizard" -- going all the way back to the original 1933 "King Kong" to 1966's "One Million Years B.C.," and in more recent dinosaur film fare such as 2001's "Jurassic Park III."

These prehistoric winged reptiles may have used warm air updrafts and wind currents to achieve their frequent-flier status, National Geographic reports.Whether you learned in school to call them pterodactyls or pteranodons, pterosaur fossils have been found all around the world and lived from 65 million to 200 million years ago.

They ranged in size from some with an average wingspan of 6 feet to the giant giraffe-sized Quetzalcoatlus of Texas that could reach up to a 30-foot wingspan.

At the recent annual meeting of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology in Pittsburgh, paleontologist Michael Habib offered new findings about these remarkable flying animals based on new models of their wingspans, shape and body mass.

"They probably only flapped for a few minutes at a time ... and then their muscles had to recover," Habib said.

The giant Quetzalcoatlus pterosaur was so big, Habib added, "They are truly gruesomely huge by bird and bat standards." ...

via Prehistoric Reptile Could Fly 10,000 Miles.

1 comment:

Ann said...

The original source of this story is National Geographic and it notes that the largest flying creature that ever lived is "a giant pterosaur." It "lived in what is now Texas 70 million years ago" and it weighed more than 400 pounds (200 kg.)!!!

Sesame street Big Bird doesn't even come close! (That is, if Big Bird weighs, say, close to the weight of an average modern human. ... I'm just speculating. I don't know for sure. I don't know of any studies done on Sesame Street's Big Bird.)

Habib et al., studies contradicts the previous studies that said these large creatures "had problems just getting off the ground due to their massive sizes." I should say!

"Habib and colleagues think that—like some modern bats—large pterosaurs may have used all four limbs to launch themselves into the air before flapping their wings."

Hmmm ...