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Re: 60-foot (wingspread) pterosaur question

Dave and other DML chappies,

I've got a review of the history of giant pterosaurs, post-Pteranodon,
in the review-o-matic machine at the moment. Here's the relevant bit on
the 20 m span nonsense:

"Since the discovery of the 10 m span Quetzalcoatlus, evidence of
pterosaurs of equal or bigger proportions have been reported in
relatively quick succession (e.g. Padian 1984; Frey & Martill 1996;
Martill et al. 1996; Buffetaut et al. 1997, 2002; Company et al. 2001;
Hwang et al. 2002). Even these giants, however, were dwarfed by the
claim of a 20 m span pterosaur revealed in 2005. Tales of enormous
footprints in Mexico and a huge wing bone from Israel were revealed in a
press conference at the 2005 BA Science Festival in Dublin prior to any
formal publication of either find: the discoveries were widely reported
in newspapers, magazines and numerous websites around the world.
However, subsequent reappraisals of the alleged discoveries suggested
that the footprints belong to a large theropod dinosaur and the âwing
boneâ is, in fact, a particularly large piece of fossil wood (E. Frey,
pers. comm. 2007), suggesting claims of 20 m flying reptiles were
somewhat premature. It is intriguing to speculate, however, whether or
not such a pterosaur could exist. Several lines of biomechanical
evidence suggest that known pterosaur skeletal morphology may not permit
them to obtain such sizes: any pterosaur with a wingspan above 12 or 13
m is likely to have considerable difficulty becoming airborne and render
its wing long-bones and joints highly vulnerable to buckling and
torsional forces once in flight. Hence, while vertebrate
palaeontologists and biomechanists have learnt many cautionary lessons
over speculating on the maximum size of extinct animals, it might be
suggested that a 20 m span pterosaur would need be a wholly different
flying reptile to those currently known (Cunningham and Habib, pers.
comm., 2008). "

You can still find the newspaper reports online: look at The Guardian
and The Times for a start. It was featured in more, but I can't remember
which ones at the moment.

Two other things while I'm here: apologies to anyone who's E-mailed me
of late and has yet to recieve a reply: I can feel the warm breath of my
thesis deadline on my neck and I've been putting that in front of
pretty-much everything else of late. Secondly, I feel I should fly my
national flag in the DML Best Beer Discussion: except perhaps for some
exquisite German beers, you can't beat British Ale like, I don't know,
Fortyniner. Oh, and Wytchcraft is pretty nice. Oh, and 1849. And Black
Penny. What's the time? 9:55? Are the pubs open yet?

Mr two-and-a-half-weeks-to-go


Mark Witton

Palaeobiology Research Group
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Portsmouth
Burnaby Building
Burnaby Road

Tel: (44)2392 842418
E-mail: Mark.Witton@port.ac.uk
>>> David Peters <davidpeters@att.net> 09/09/08 6:24 AM >>>
What's the basis behind the rumors of a 60-foot (wingspread) pterosaur?

David Peters