Ancient Rulers of the Sky
They were big, they could fly, they were awesome creatures of their time. They were Pterodactyls. Ranging from the size of a bat to standing as tall as a Giraffe, they were nothing but ornery. For the little ones, you didn't want to invade their space. As for the big ones, you didn't want to look tasty. I'm only going to mention a few, but I'll start with the little one.
This little guy was no bigger than 10 inches long, only weighing a few ounces, and has been compared to the size of a pigeon. Its diet consisted of insects. When they found its fossils, some thought it was just a hatch ling. Its name means flying forest dweller so that gives us a good hint about where it lived. Normally, pterosaurs would spend most of their time around the coast to go fishing, but these little guys spent their days in the safety of the forest canopy, hopping around, eating bugs. Nemicolopterus lived in the early Cretaceous period, about 120 million years ago.
Tapejara was a unique character. It was one of the first pterosaurs to adapt a short tail. It also adapted a downward pointing beak for snatching up fish for dinner. The most distinct characteristic of Tapejara was its three foot tall crest on top of its head. Keep in mind that the big crest was just a male thing. The females had little crests. Scientists believe this crest was colored in a display for the ladies. If you ask me, I'd say they were trying too hard. The Tapejara had a wingspan of up to 12 feet and weighed a good 80 pounds. Tapejara lived on the shorelines of South America about a 130 to 100 million years ago. Tapejara's name means The Old Being.
Ornithocheirus was the dominant of his time. He lived 130 to 100 million years ago. Its wingspan ranged from 10 to 20 feet and weighed from 50 to 100 pounds. Ornithocheirus was built for long distance travel. The males had a crest at the end of their snout for the same purpose as the Tapejara's crest on top of its head. This crest would flush red coloration around their mating season. They would fly hundreds to thousands of miles every year to a particular mating spot. Now, that's what I call dedication. Their bones had a hollow structure similar to that of a bird's, for their long distance travel. Ornithocheirus could go for miles without flapping its wings once. Though this pterosaur seems to be very closely related to birds, birds actually descended from small theropod dinosaurs. Funny how that works.
The more recent facts of Quetzalcoatlus tell us that this pterosaur had wingspan of a good 40 feet. Scientists are very uncertain about its weight, but they have estimated 450 to 550 pounds. That's a big bird. Quetzalcoatlus lived from 60 to 70 million years ago. Quetzalcoatlus was thought to be a scavenger, but the structure of its beak proved it to be a fisher. It must have caught some big fish to satisfy his figure. Scientists today, are still studying how this massive creature took flight. Some have even claimed it to be flightless. Either way, it's a wonder how this big guy descended from the earlier mentioned, Nemicolopterus.
These were magnificent creatures, yet these were not the biggest nor the worst of the beasts millions of years ago.