The pterosaurs are grounded

Well the great pterosaur invasion of London is at an end. However, the good news is that Darren Naish has a big write-up over on his blog with more to come from Mark Witton at some point, likely on the Pterosaur.net blog. Here are a couple of quick pictures though to tide you over which come from my parents as tragically I was trapped in Beijing and missed the whole thing despite having been in the UK just 2 weeks ago and returning tomorrow.

4 Responses to “The pterosaurs are grounded”


  1. 1 HP 08/07/2010 at 11:27 am

    Re: The first photo above of the shadow on the ground. I don’t know if you have something similar in England (storks, maybe?) or China (old world vultures?), but here in eastern North America, we see shadows like that all the time (well, we see them only if we’re paying attention). A glance overhead usually reveals them as American Vultures (aka Turkey Buzzards) or more rarely Great Blue Herons.

    Depending on where the sun is in the sky, and where the bird is overhead, it’s not uncommon to see massive shadows of winged creatures, 5 meters or more from wingtip to wingtip, that seem impossible to exist in this world. Some say that the shadow of the soaring Turkey Buzzard over the Great Smokey Mountains is the origin of the Thunderbird legend, and having seen the shadow of a vulture cross US40 while driving through the Smokeys, I believe it. I’ve seen this effect on more than one occasion, and trust me, it is absolutely marvelous.

    I’m well aware of the taxonomic differences thankyouverymuch, but the sight of the outsized shadow of a Turkey Buzzard, when optical conditions are just right, is a huge part of my fascination with pterosaurs, and thus my subscription to your blog.

    • 2 David Hone 08/07/2010 at 12:55 pm

      I’ve been lucky enough to see Andean condors in the wild up close and they leave some impressive shadows too, though they were so close I was more concentrating on the the birds than the lighting effects.

      Thanks for the nice words.

  2. 3 HP 08/07/2010 at 2:13 pm

    I’m lucky enough to live where Turkey Buzzards are common as dirt, and no one comments on them. Buzzards have the disadvantage of being only slightly smaller than their more dramatic Andean relatives. Yet I see them every single day. You can claim a few tens of centimeters on wingspread, but I don’t think my subjective experience differs much.

    I have such a hard time convincing my colleagues that the North American Vultures that circle over the building we work in are a beautiful and precious thing. All they see are distaff metaphors and conventional economic stratigraphy.

    As a nonscientist, I adore the fact that I can walk out of my office and watch Accipritoform Cathartidae do their stuff.

    • 4 David Hone 08/07/2010 at 2:23 pm

      I’ve seen more than a few turkey vultures too, not least in Mexico but a fair number in Peru and Brazil too, though either too high up to see them well or on the ground where the shadows tend to be none too impressive sadly.

      With the exception of a few parasites and pests I find it nearly impossible to dislike any animal at all. Even mosquitos which seem to be my personal bane have something inherently attractive (if only from a scientific perspective) about them. Hopefully a few colleagues will see the error of their ways and appreciate beauty in apparent ugliness.

      I certainly do like vultures (except the griffon vulture that nearly took a chunk out of me once while I was working at Bristol zoo).


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