azhdarchidae

FEEDING TIME IN THE LATE CRETACEOUS

Artist’s life restoration of a group of giant azhdarchids
Quetzalcoatlus northropi, foraging on a Cretaceous fern prairie.
A juvenile titanosaur has been caught by one pterosaur, while the others stalk through the scrub in search of small vertebrates and other food.

IMAGE SOURCE:  Mark Witton and Darren Naish (2008), A Reappraisal of Azhdarchid Pterosaur Functional Morphology and Paleoecology - in PLoS ONE 3(5): e2271.
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The Azhdarchidae (derived from the Old-Persian Aži Dahāka) take their name from Ajdarxo, a dragon in Persian mythology.  This is a family of pterosaurs known primarily from the late Cretaceous Period,  Azhdarchids included some of the largest known flying animals of all time. (source: Wikipedia)
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REGARDING PTEROSAURS, see Tumblog scientificillustration’s book notice: Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy by Mark P. Witton.

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Family Azhdarchidae

possibly one of my favorite groups of animals, this family named after a dragon called Ashdaar in Persian mythology, is a group of the biggest pterasaurs from the late cretaceous period, and are the largest animals to ever sail the skies  including such great beasts such as (Quetzalcoatlus, Azhdarcho, and Arambourgiania) these pterasaurs ate characterized by their long necks and legs and in some their large heads, they probably acted like modern storks and spent a reasonable time on the ground walking but could fly if needed.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Chordata-Pterosauria-Pterodactyloidea-Neoazhdarchia-Azhdarchidae

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The only good thing in Walking With Dinosaurs 3D

Piksi IS a pterosaur

Apologies for the two grammatic mistakes.

Basically, the argument that Piksi is not a pterosaur – other than David Peters twisting the holotype to have a curvature – is because the authors of the new paper were intellectually dishonest in regards to depictions of the radius.

However, the alternative, that it is a bird, is not optional either, considering the absence of bulbous ectepicondyles on most birds – the general tendency seems to be towards reduction in most taxa, and nigh absent in the fowl-like forms Piksi is considered to be – and, most importantly, that the holotype is blatantly compared and showed to be fairly close to Arambourgiania, an azhdarchid pterosaur.

Furthermore, twisting a holotype’s pic to form a curvature strikes me as intellectually dishonest – certainly far more so than the authors of the paper.

Bottom line: evidence so far points out that Piksi was a pterosaur, even if not an ornithocheirid.

EDIT: More evidence

Gigantala Recovered

Gigantala cranitus, by Tiina Aumalla.

What you see is a picture recovered from The Speculative Dinosaur Project’s “glory days” (I preffer to call them “scientific dark ages”, but I have to admit it was the time when Spc was at it’s peak): the azhdarchid pterosaur Gigantala cranitus, Spec’s last pterosaur (now, thankfully, pterosaurs are not extinct in current Spec anymore).

Here’s the recovered excerpt (note: the links are mean [in-]jokes added by me):

“Recovered from late Paleocene rocks in western Canada, the fragmented cranium of Gigantala cranitus represents the youngest pterosaur evidence yet known. A medium-sized azdarachid, Gigantala is in most respects similar to such Cretaceous pterosaurs as Zhejiangopterus and Quetzalcoatlus, although (with an estimated wingspan of 4.5m) not so large. The few other Paleocene pterosaur remnants scattered throughout the northern hemisphere can probably all be attributed the this genus, and as there have yet to be any substantiated pterosaur fossils found from post-Paleocene strata, Gigantala was very likely the last of its kind.”

In Old!Spec, there’s no clear reason as to why pterosaurs went extinctother than Brian Choo being anal about it. The implication in the main Cretaceous article was that the so called “last pterosaurs” (ignoring all the Maastrichtian ornithocheirids, pteranodonts, tapejarids, lonchodectids, chaoyangopterids and nyctosaurs, of course; they were already described when Spec was first exhibited), the azhdarchids (or, as eloquently put, the “azdarachids”), were pelagornithid-like pelagic piscivores, and thus incapable of surviving the PETM, becoming extinct alongside the plesiosaurs.

Now, of course, we know that azhdarchids were terrestrial, opportunistic carnivores/omnivores, and a slight increase in ocean temperatures probably wouldn’t even phase them. Indeed, right now it’s very likely that the CTM probably didn’t even affect pterosaur diversity that much, and since ornithocheirids, nyctosaurs and pteranodonts were among the most common taxa after azhdarchids, it is almost certain that kind of temperature shifts wouldn’t affect albatross-like pterosaurs.

I wonder if we can incorporate Gigantala in New!Spec in a more significant way, without being just another dead genus. Maybe not as the last of a dynasty, but the sire of a new one; Aumalla’s depiction makes it quite toucan like, so maybe as the first of a lineage of hornbill like species?

12 апреля, в 14:00, в заключительный день фестиваля, откроется однодневная выставка corpus|media. В ее рамках пройдет встреча с графическим дизайнером и художником Дмитрием Кавко (Москва) и кибер-перформанс с игровой среде Second Life (azhdarchidae). Кроме того,вы сможете увидеть видео-перформанс Алены Терешко, компьютерную игру Дмитрия Кавко и проект Антона Яхонтова/Олега Макарова “Телесно ориентированная поэзия”. Только один день, приходите. 

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