|It’s MASSIVE. See a
full set of photos of the assembly of this fossil
from this morning on Flickr.
We’ve got a new visitor to the Museum’s Grand Hall – the giant Texas Pterosaur, Quetzalcoatlus!
Quetzalcoatlus northropi and its close kin can be considered as the largest animals to have ever flown – and the cast is indeed impressively massive.
This Quetzalcoatlus northropi cast was assembled today and measured to finalize the design of a Cretaceous vignette featuring three of the giant flying Texas reptiles. This recreated fossilized drama will be part of the new Paleontology wing scheduled to open in 2012.
According to Dr. Bakker, the plan “is to create a portrait of the giant Texas ‘dactyl defending its nest from a curious juvenile Tyrannosaurus.”
Dave Temple, our associate curator of paleontology, said, “Typically, we would uncrate the specimen, assemble, measure and pack it up over the course of an afternoon. I am glad we have the opportunity to leave it up for a few days to give the public a sneak peek at things to come.”
Be sure to visit this weekend to check it out! Tuesday morning, the Quetzalcoatlus northropi will be placed back in the crate until final installation in our new paleo hall in 2012.
Slideshow from this morning’s Quetzalcoatlus assembly:
Quetzalcoatlus northropi was discovered in Big Bend National Park in 1971 by Douglas Lawson, a student of Dr. Wann Langston from the University of Texas at Austin. The species is named for the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl, who was worshiped in the form of a feathered serpent.
Quetzalcoatlus northropi probably weighed about 200 pounds and had as large as a 36 foot wingspan. Their large, toothless beaks create a bit of a mystery, at times hypothesized to have unearthed shellfish, arthropods, carrion and opportunistic hunting, similar to modern-day storks. Likely Quetzalcoatlus ate a variety of different items. This species went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous.