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Re: Pterosaur questions

Dino Rampage wrote:

> 3) I've noticed that in many recent reconstructions of Quetzalcoatlus, I've
> seen varying restorations of the crest on Q's head. Some give it a
> relatively large crest while in others the crest is quite small & looks more
> like a little stub. And the Walking With Dinosaurs Quetzalcoatlus gives it a
> small pointed crest on the back of its head. Which is more likely.

The Quetz crest and skull aren't known aft of about mid-orbit, but most
illustrations of the front don't match the preserved structure. 
Personally, I feel that the WWD crest is unlikely.  Langston prefers a
crest that is somewhat similar to the TMM Q northropi skeletal
sculpture, as do I (that skull is about 7 feet long, an isometric blowup
of a Qsp skull by a factor of 2.06).  I would expect an actual Qn skull
to be more robust, perhaps 10-15% taller and maybe 20-25% wider than the
TMM sculpture and to have a length around 7-8 feet (2.1 to maybe 2.4
meters).  Due to the long relatively inflexible neck, it is unlikely
that Qsp or the presumed Qn could have afforded a substantial crest.  I
did a good bit of pre-publication review of Sibbick's 2001 National
Geographic illustrations of Qsp (as did several others), and don't
remember making any significant comments about the crest, so those
illustrations probably come pretty close to satisfying my personal bias
(I didn't go look at my notes before making this comment).

> And by
> the way, I had no idea Q's head was so large as compared to the rest of its
> body. The whole thing looks so darned unbalanced!

It doesn't look so to me.  As an aside, I probably should mention that
several illustrations of Quetz have a head that is perhaps 30% larger
relative to the rest of the animal than it was in life, while also
having a neck that is far too short.  In combination, they make the
illustrations look far weirder than the animal itself.

> P.S After looking of those photos of the turkey vulture that struck the
> plane, I shudder at the damage a fully adult Pteranodon or azdarchid could
> do to even a jumbo jet!

Back in the late 60's, an acquaintance of mine was flying a Cessna
Skyhawk (a 172) that was overtaken by a USAF Globemaster (C-124).  At
the time, the Globemaster was the largest transport in US service.  The
right inboard prop went through the cabin of the Skyhawk.  It didn't do
much damage to the Globemaster, and its pilot shut the affected engine
down and landed.  Since it's quite a bit lighter than the Skyhawk, I
doubt that a large pterodactyl would do as much damage -- unless it were
a headon collision.

 Perhaps we shall see such a scenario in the 3rd
> instalment

I'd rather not.