National Geographic : 2001 May
+ Ji ONEYARD FFrom Sparrows to Sailplanes 1. Quetzalcoatlussp. 2. Quetzalcoatlus northropi 3. Rhamphorhynchus longiceps 4. Preondactylus buffarinii 5. Cearadactylus atrox 6. Pterodactylus elegans 7. Dsungaripterus weii Tiny P elegans Giant Quetzalcoatlus Known from the Big Bend region of Texas, Quetzalcoatlusused its big wings to ride thermals-columns of air rising from heated ground. The largest, 0. northropi, had a wingspan of at least 36 feet, dwarfing the 18-foot wingspan of this smaller Quetzalcoatlus species. JAWS TO SUIT - Perhaps the smallest pterosaur, Pterodactylus elegans had a skull just over an inch long, wings just ten inches from tip to tip. Shown to scale with Ouetzalcoatlus, left, this sparrow-size flier relied on high-energy flapping to stay aloft. THE BILL OF FARE Dsungaripterus First pterosaur known from China, Dsungaripterus may have used the curved, pointed ends of its jaws to probe shoreline rocks and burrows for shellfish. Flattened knobs lining the backs of its jaws could have been used to break open its catch. Tupuxuara Using tweezer-like jaws to pluck fish from Cretaceous seas covering what is now northeastern Brazil, toothless Tupuxuara likely gulped its meals whole. A 20-foot wing span helped it stay aloft, scanning the water for near-surface prey. Pterodaustro Argentina's Pterodaustro is thought to have sieved tiny organisms from shallow waters using the thousand odd bristle-like teeth in its lower jaw. Short, blunt teeth in the upper jaw probably ground up the con tents of its "filter basket."