Quetzalcoatlus

There are various mounts of this giant pterosaur around the world. I’ve seen versions in Germany and Mexico and I know of a couple of others that are out there. I have even managed to get one photo on the Musings before, but usually the things are so big and so close to the ground that there’s no way of fitting much into a photo. This one is nice and high up however and it’s possible to show off the whole thing (though ironically, once you do, it’s so huge that many of the bones look tiny). At the Carnegie, not only is this so elevated you can get a real appreciation of it, but thanks to the presence of a balcony, you can see it in something approaching a lateral view which is a novelty for me, and certainly changes your perspective.

12 Responses to “Quetzalcoatlus”


  1. 1 Greg Leitich Smith 23/11/2011 at 7:37 pm

    Neat! They’ve got one at the Texas Memorial Museum here in Austin, but you’re looking up at it.

    The Houston Museum of Natural Sciences is working on some new mounts for their new addition next year:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/hmns/sets/72157625698208643/

  2. 3 peteykins 23/11/2011 at 11:08 pm

    The Wikipedia entry describes Quetzalcoatlus as “one of the largest known flying animals of all time.”

    One of the largest? Is there something known that’s bigger?

    • 4 David Hone 23/11/2011 at 11:22 pm

      Not as such. There’s a couple of pterosaurs that were claimed to be larger, but probably weren’t. A recent paper by Mark Witton and Mike Habib looked at this and showed there were some scaling issues. They certainly weren’t bigger than quetzy, but were comparable (bearing in mind that none of them are based on that much material).

  3. 5 Mike Habib 24/11/2011 at 5:43 am

    Just as a quick shameless self-promotion bit, the article that David is referring to (by Mark Witton and myself) is in PLoS ONE and therefore open access. You can read it here:

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0013982

  4. 7 Zhen 24/11/2011 at 8:16 pm

    Dave, may I ask your thoughts on Hatzegopteryx being a junior synonym of Quetzalcoatlus northropi? I’ve read that the jaw and head being different. Isn’t that evidence enough to separate Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx?

    • 8 David Hone 24/11/2011 at 8:30 pm

      Well having seen or studied neither I’m not really in a position to say. As ever though the issue is not ‘different’ but ‘how different?’. All humans are different from each other in detail, but that doesn’t make a species.

    • 10 Mark Witton 25/11/2011 at 10:16 pm

      No-one has ever proposed that Hatz. and Quetz. are the same thing. It has been mentioned that azhdarchid taxonomy is in a bit of a state, though (Witton et al. 2010 – download from here). Hatz. and Quetz. northropi aren’t too dissimilar – so far as they can be compared (which may not mean much, because their only overlapping bits are fairly undiagnostic) – but the skull material of Hatz. and Q. sp. are different. There is new material of Hatz that may show other differences, but we’ll have to wait for publication on that one. For the mean time, our chief problem is why the Q. sp material should be placed in Quetzalcoatlus: there is no diagnosis for any of the Quetz. taxa at all – even the genus – so, until there is, the giant azhdarchids are in taxonomic limbo. More here.

      • 11 Zhen 25/11/2011 at 10:47 pm

        Yeah, that’s what I thought as well. I knew they were probably a sister taxon, but someone sent me an e-mail asking whether I thought Hatz. and Q. were the same thing, and it got me confused. I couldn’t find anything on the subject. I guess the person who asked me that was confused. Thanks for clearing that up, Mark.


  1. 1 Carnegie mural pterosaurs « Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings Trackback on 15/12/2011 at 8:39 am

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