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Re: Quetzalcoatlus may have lived like a giant stork

Morphological details include a jaw shape that was long but lacked adaptations suitable for skimming, and proportionately longer legs and shorter wings (implying that they walked on the ground more than other pterodactyloids and were less specialized for spending a very long time in the air). I don't know that much about pterosaurs, but I find his argument very compelling. It's worth reading despite the technical jargon.

Darren is a quite a knowledgeable individual, but I do note that longer legs and shorter wings do not necessarily imply lessened aerial ability. The reduced span does subtract a bit from gliding efficiency, but reducing the distal wing also reduces wing inertia a great deal (which improves flapping ability). Figuring out which scenario is driving distal wing reduction requires looking at the morphology and mechanics of the rest of the animal, and azhdarchids have a range of characteristics that would increase flapping capacity (at least in bursts). Thus, Quetzalcoatlus and relatives come across to me as species adapted to powerful bursts of propulsion, combined with rapid soaring dynamics (see Jim's post for more details). They may also have been adept on the ground; the lengthened hindlimbs wouldn't hurt in that regard.


--Mike H.