Quetzalcoatlus Northropi

Quetzalcoatlus Northropi is considered as the largest dinosaur that has ever flown. This pterodactyloid pterosaur was known to have existed during the Late Cretaceous Period of the North America about 68 million years in the past. It is part of the Azhdarchidae family which is composed of advanced and toothless pterosaurs that have long and stiffened necks. Its name was credited to Quetzalcoatlus, the feathered, fearsome serpent god of the Aztecs.

This flying dinosaur is considered as the most extraordinary species among the pterosaurs with a wingspan of more than 30 feet. The dominant structure of this dinosaur must have been the source of fear for those terrestrial animals when they dive down during its flight while searching for its food. But a recent analytical examination of the anatomy of Quetzalcoatlus Northropi shows that this flying creature has lived a terrestrial existence in a complete manner hunting its prey with its two legs just like its contemporary tyrannosaurus and raptors of the Late Cretaceous Period.

The excavated remains of this flying dinosaur revealed that it has a long and pointed beak. A crest on its skull was also present but the actual size and form is still a mystery to a lot of people even paleontologists. When the fossilized remains of Quetzalcoatlus Northropi was discovered, a lot of scientists have estimated its wingspan as big as 15.9 meters, but further studies showed that the actual size of its wings might have been 10 to 11 meters only.

Estimates for the actual size of this flying creature are very difficult to achieve due to lack of existing species with the same body pan and size from which to compare this prehistoric animal. There are varying studies regarding the size of this creature, some said that is has low body mass of 70 kilograms while those which are published in the 2000s showed that it weighed for more than 200 kilograms.

Even today, scientists still find it hard to track the lifestyle of the Quetzalcoatlus Northropi. A known fact in the scientific community showed if this creature really flew, Quetzalcoatlus Northropi only glided in the air rather than flapping its wings during its flight. The belief is due to cold-blooded characteristic of the animal (presumed) and its behemoth size making it impossible for the Quetzalcoatlus Northropi to really flap its wings.

Quetzalcoatlus Northropi

Another uncertainty regarding this creature is the feeding mechanism. Paleontologists believed that Quetzalcoatlus Northropi have been a scavenger of carcasses, gobbled down or even plucked out fish from the water for its food. Although it is one of the biggest flying creatures that were ever discovered (if it ever flew), the Quetzalcoatlus Northropi is not the only behemoth sized pterosaur of the Mesozoic Period, but when it comes to body mass, it outweighs its closest relatives.

Although considered as the largest dinosaur that has ever flown, some scientists believed that the Hatzegopteryx, a European pterosaur has the potential to become even bigger compared to the Quetzalcoatlus Northropi, but the lack of fossilized remains makes it difficult to speculate.