AMNH pterosaurs 3 – Azhdarchoids

OK so the last two for now. Above is a cast of the famous Quetzalcoatlus wing. This is something I’ve never seen before so is rather cool. There are casts of the humerus floating around in various places, but this is the first time I’ve seen the rest, including that lovely long metacarpal block and pretty thin phalanx 1 of the wing. As with yesterday’s Pteranodon, fingers 1-3 do seem to be backwards though.

Below is a cast of Tupuxuara and again, I’ve seen copies of the head but not the rest. This is an animal that has a proper grounding in the concepts of massive head crests, and indeed a big skull in general and a mount like this really does show off the extreme proportions of this group – the heads are huge, the legs pretty long, but the body? Well the pelvis and sternum almost completely cover it and if you were feeling jaunty, you might be able to cram the torso *thought* the nasoanorbital fenestra. Cool.

8 Responses to “AMNH pterosaurs 3 – Azhdarchoids”


  1. 1 kattato Garu 29/03/2012 at 9:47 am

    This is super-bizarre. How on earth did it manage to digest and metabolise enough food in that tiny body to supply the extremities…? Maybe, like those other micro-bodied beasts with vast appendages, the pycnogonids, it had gut diverticulae running the length of its limbs!

    • 2 David Stern 29/03/2012 at 3:00 pm

      And process enough air too.

      • 3 David Hone 30/03/2012 at 8:24 am

        Well that’s much easier – think of their massive penumatic system that would invade so many bones and give them massive airsacs. I think sauropods would struggle more than the big pterosaurs.

    • 4 David Hone 30/03/2012 at 8:22 am

      Well if you are light (and they were) then there’s not so much you need to metabloise, and if you’re efficient (like a primary soarer) then you can make big savings, and if you’re diet if very high in protein / fat (like fish) that helps too. The head a wings may be huge, but it’s a lot of bone and not that much of anything else. In short, they’re not so different to many birds and they do fine.

  2. 5 Robert A. Sloan 29/03/2012 at 4:59 pm

    That’s trippy. I never realized a flying creature got that weirdly proportioned. Thanks for posting this. I never would’ve believed it till I saw it.

  3. 6 Christopher Collinson 29/03/2012 at 9:44 pm

    The Tupuxura cast has to be mounted incorrectly. For starters the sternum appears to be shoved way up into the abdominal cavity. This cast lacks them, but if the prepubes were articulated they would overlap the sternum considerably, and what of the gastralia? Pteranodon has something like 6 or 7 pairs of gastralia. The entire pectoral girdle seems to be mounted too far posteriorly. Properly articulated the torso would likely be half again as long. Still ridiculously tiny compared to the skull.

  4. 8 Zhen 30/03/2012 at 3:32 am

    Dave, if you’d like, here is a video I filmed of the AMNH. The resolution isn’t as good at the pictures, but some of the specimens can be seen from different angles.

    *NOTE* Yes, I’m aware there are many mistakes in the identification of the specimens and Mr. Steve Cohen was nice enough to point out the mistakes to me a few weeks ago.

    THE PTEROSAURS START AT 17:36


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