Pterosaur landing tracks discovered

This video is called Tribute to Quetzalcoatlus.

From LiveScience:

Prehistoric ‘Runway’ Used by Flying Reptile

By Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

posted: 18 August 2009 07:46 pm ET

A prehistoric runway for flying pterosaurs has been discovered for the first time.

Scientists uncovered the first known landing tracks of one of these extinct flying reptiles at a site dubbed “Pterosaur Beach,” in the fine-grained limestone deposits of an ancient lagoon in southwestern France dating back some 140 million years ago to the Late Jurassic.

The footprints suggest the pterosaur — a “pterodactyloid” with a wingspan roughly three feet wide (one meter) — flapped to stall its flight during landing, and then planted both its two-inch-long feet (five cm) simultaneously at a high angle.

The reptile next dragged its toes briefly, took a short “stutter step” — perhaps a hop with both feet — and landed, settling its hands. It finally adjusted its posture and ambled off normally on all fours.

“No other trackways ascribed to pterosaurs in the world have shown either landings or takeoffs,” said researcher Kevin Padian, a paleontologist at the University of California at Berkeley.

Pterosaurs, like birds, “were very light animals, and didn’t tend to leave as many tracks when compared to, say, a 50-ton sauropod,” the largest dinosaurs to ever stride the earth, explained paleontologist David Hone at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of China in Beijing, who did not participate in this study.

“If tracks from pterosaurs are going to get preserved, it’s likely to be in the softest muds or finest sands, and it’s unlikely even then, so to get traces of a pterosaur landing like this is very exciting,” Hone noted. He added the case the researchers make for the way the pterosaurs landed “is very strong and convincing.”

The fact this pterosaur had the capability to stall during flight implies sophisticated flapping control of the wings, Padian said. Future research will hopefully uncover tracks made during takeoff, shedding further light on how these extinct creatures once flew.

“There are hundreds of trackways in this big quarry,” Padian said.

See also here.

ScienceDaily (Nov. 7, 2012) — It weighed about 155 pounds and had a 34-foot wingspan, close to the size of an F-16 fighter jet. A five-foot-long skull looked down from a standing height similar to that of a modern giraffe. By all measures, the ancient pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus was a Texas-sized giant of the air and created a frightening shadow as it soared across the sky: here.

Angola is best known for oil and diamonds, but dinosaur hunters say the country holds a “museum in the ground” of rare fossils — some actually jutting from the earth — waiting to be discovered: here.

Australian sauropod: here.

Epachthosaurus: here.

4 thoughts on “Pterosaur landing tracks discovered

  1. Pingback: Small Cretaceous pterosaurs discovered | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: 215 pterosaur eggs discovered | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: What prehistoric elephants ate | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Pterosaurs, ancient flyers, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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