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Re: pterosaurs and birds



Jim C. sent this along to me and said I could post it to the list; I thought it 
was a useful reply:

"Mike, I think I've used up my allocation for posts to the list today, so am 
sending this only to you.  Feel free to copy it to the list if you wish.  A 
3 meter Wandering Albatross would be expected to mass about 9.6 Kg.  So a 16 
Kg specimen either has a full fuel tank (fat load), or it has a pretty large 
span.  A bit bigger than average, I would think.

Most of the early estimates of pterosaur weight were heavily based on the 
Bramwell and Whitfield estimate for Pteranodon, and it was flawed.  Also, 
everyone harps on about the thin-walled pterosaur bones but neglect to 
mention that the gross dimensions of those bones were on the whole larger 
than for an equivilently spanned bird, so that the total weight of the 
skeleton was not much less, and may have been more.  And pterosaur bones 
were sized to attach very substantial muscles.  At least as substantial as 
birds.  Oversimplisticly, since optimum lift coefficient is largely a 
function of planform, I suspect similarly planformed animals also likely 
have about the same weight distributions."

Cheers all,
--Mike