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Largest non-pterodactyloids

January 1, 2014

The largest non-pterodactyloid pterosaurs are the scaphognathines Harpactognathus and Cacibupteryx at wingspans of 2.5+ meters, with the wukongopterid Cuspicephalus and some rhamphorhynchines at wingspans of 2 meters. I was under the impresson Campylognathoides beated both at a 3 meter wingspan, but as it stands it is bogus, having it’s wingspan lowered at 1.9 meters.

I find it interesting that, according to Habib, this is around the same size limit as the largest theoretical bats, which could go on to around a 3 meter wingspan. It is possible that the largest non-pterodactyloid pterosaurs, with their clumsy terrestrial gait and without sophisticated adaptations for quadrupedal launching, and possibly with a rather rudimentary pulmonary air sac system, were bound by the same constraints as bats, being unable to launch properly from flat surfaces and to supply enough aerobic respiration derived energy for taking off at large weights. It’s no surprise that the largest of these pterosaurs were all thought to have been arboreal animals from terrestrial settings, just like modern flying foxes, albeit presumably not analogous in terms of lifestyle.

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