all about the giant of the air “Quetzalcoatlus”, flying reptile neither dinosaur nor bird

In fact, the monograph does double duty: it describes a smaller species of pterosaurs, Quetzalcoatlus lawsoniwhose bones have been found in large numbers, and derives a wealth of information from it to interpret the rare fossils specific to Quetzalcoatlus northropi. Let us prevent any misinterpretation from the outset: from an evolutionary point of view, it is neither a dinosaur nor a bird, but Kevin Padian and his co-authors compare this giant to “a stork or a heron, wading through shallow waters or roaming grasslands, gathering fish, invertebrates and small tetrapods with its long prehensile beak”letting them slide down his “throat” by gravity.

Footprints left on the ground indicate that these pterosaurs walked on all fours, the folded wings acting as canes. And for the flight? Padian and his colleagues analyze several hypotheses, including that of a rise born of a leap propelled by powerful hind legs. “I don’t see many other plausible options”, comments Eric Buffetaut. This implies that the animal was not a pure glider and that its energy-demanding metabolism necessarily made it a warm-blooded reptile.

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