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Re: Quetzalcoatlus questions



>Someone else mentioned (I lost the mail message) that Quetzalcoatlus
>had a very small crest on it's head.
>
>How do we know that? As far as I was aware (big disclaimer there),
>all we had of Quetzalcoatlus was a big wing bone. Now, I know that,
>as a general rule, reasonable re-constructions can be made based on
>inference drawn from other similar animals, but can we really state
>with certainty that such and such animal had "this", unless we have one 
>to stare at?

The first discovery of Quetzalcoatlus was in 1971, and consisted of an
almost complete wing, but nothing else. This had an estimated wingspan of
11-12m and was named Quetzalcoatlus northropi.

However, during the following years two smaller specimens were found in the
same area. Between them, these gave a fairly complete picture of the
skeleton of Quetzalcoatlus, although they "only" had a wingspan of about
5.5m. It is not clear whether these are a smaller, separate, species or
juveniles of the same one.

This all comes from Dr Peter Wellinhofer's book "The Illustrated
Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs", which is dated 1991, so perhaps someone out
there has newer information.

James Shields/jshields@iol.ie
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