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Re: the largest Pterosaur

----- Original Message ----- From: "Mark Witton" <Mark.Witton@port.ac.uk>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2007 9:35 AM
Subject: Fwd: the largest Pterosaur

Whoops. That should be HatEgopteryx, not HatzAgopteryx.

Don't you mean Hatzegopteryx ? :-)

However, other azhdarchids known from even scantier material hint at
bigger animals. Arambourgiania philidelphae, a pterosaur known from a
solitary neck vertebrae and scrappy wing elements from Jordan, may
achieved a wingspan of 11 - 13 m.

That vertebra is about 10% shorter and a lot more gracile than you would expect from scaling up the equivilent Qsp vertebra to expected Qn size. I wouldn't place the estimated Aramb wingspan at much more than a very iffy 10 m.

However, Hatzagopteryx thambema is the
current record holder for the largest pterosaur known: with only a few
pieces of skull and a couple of scrappy limb elements, estimates for
this critter put it between 12 - 14 m across the wings.

The average of that size is certainly possible for azhdarchids, but some of the features preserved in common with northropi are larger and some smaller (the proximal end of the Hatz humerus is a couple of mm larger than northropi -- the Hatz dp crest is a LOT smaller, but is also somewhat degraded -- if the dp crest for Hatz is indeed smaller in life, then there would be some problems expected with a 12 - 14 meter span) . Personally, I wouldn't put the Hatz wingspan estimate at more than 11 m. The estimate of 11 m for northropi is pretty solid. However, all three of these animals are known from single specimens and all are well within the range of size that you would expect individuals of a given species to achieve. Consequently, I don't think there is enough information yet to predict which of these species might be largest on the average. They're all durned big, and there is still substantial room for the skeletal structures to morph to carry more weight and perhaps a couple of meters more span, up to maybe 13 meters or thereabouts -- I think the biggest pterosaurs may still be in the ground somewhere.