Pterosaurs were 10 times heavier than biggest birds: Study

January 19th, 2011 - 11:51 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 19 (ANI): Pterosaurs-dinosaur-era flying reptiles-were nearly ten times heavier than the already known heaviest bird Kori Bustard, suggests a new study.

Calculations based on footprints left behind by pterosaurs, also known as pterodactyls, have revealed that these animals weighed up to 320 pounds while Kori Bustard weighs 48 pounds.

“My study provides good independent evidence that large pterosaurs were quite heavy,” Discovery News quoted author Tai Kubo as saying.

Kubo, a paleontologist at the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum in Japan, started his study by collecting trackways from 17 species of living reptiles housed at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.

And, after collecting the footprints, Kubo noted the weights of each animal. He determined there was a connection between weight and a calculated relationship between the individual’s fore and hind limb foot sizes measured from their tracks.

Kubo then took this mathematical formula and applied it to fossilized trackways that had previously been attributed to pterosaurs.

He found that many pterosaurs were at least 10 times heavier than the heaviest modern flying birds.

Meanwhile, Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, wondered if Kubo’s data might have been different if he had used footprints made by living birds instead of the other animals Kubo selected for his study.

“I think the largest pterosaurs-things like Quetzalcoatlus-reached several hundred kilograms. Unfortunately, we have nothing even beginning to resemble a complete skeleton for the largest pterosaurs, so their body shapes and volumes, and associated body masses, are not known with any certainty,” he said.

The study was published in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. (ANI)

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