This was a hard letter to work with until my eight-year-old paleontologist came to the rescue. “Pick a dinosaur, Mom,” he said. “The Quetzalcoatlus.”
And who can say no to such a cool idea?
Hence, we have the amazing creature that gave Hollywood enough thrill and action for countless feature films — and just about enough science to make it all plausible.
Remember Jurassic Park 3? It’s okay if you don’t. Most viewers stopped after Jurassic Park 1, or maybe 2. But with a little dinosaur fan in the house, we watched all three many times over.
In the movie, the scientist’s assistant is grabbed by the flying dinosaur. What a horror! Gone, only to resurface just before the credits rolled. Guess the Quetzalcoatlus didn’t care for the skinny guy. The huge bird was only trying to teach him a lesson. Stay away, human.
So, what do we know what about the flying dinosaur? I enlisted my son, Keith, for help, and here is what we found:
1. Quetzalcoatlus was one of the largest flying animals to have ever inhabited the Earth. Its wingspan was over 40 feet in width. Its neck alone was 10 feet long.
2. The flying reptile is believed to have been a scavenger, picking at the carcasses of dead dinosaurs. It lived 68,000,000 years ago, during the late Cretaceous period in Mexico and North America (Texas).
3. The Quetzalcoatlus was named after the ancient Mexican God, quetzalcoatl.
4. It’s wing span was 35 feet in length. Even today nothing can compare. The albatross has a wingspan of 11 feet.
5. Even though they were as large as a small plane, they were very light. Probably not more than 200lbs.
6. Scientists have never found a complete skeleton, but they found so many halves they were able to put them together.
7. The fossils were all found in Texas. The first ever discovered was in 1971, then in 1996. Close relatives were found in Alberta, Canada.
And with such interesting facts, (the god name, the ability to fly), Hollywood will likely continue to give the dinosaur a role in many more movies. And in this house we will be watching.
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Hope to see you tomorrow when R is for Romance Languages.
Photos credits: Quetzalcoatlus image, from kids-dinosaurs.com; Jurassic Park scene, from rottentomatoes; fossil of Quetzalcoatlus, an extinct pterosaur, by Ghedoghedo — from Wikimedia Commons.