viernes, marzo 12, 2004


Ornithocheirus was a large (12m wingspan) pterosaur with a long slender skull and often a bony crest on its snout. It had sharp teeth set in a long tapering jaw designed for catching fish.

At the beginning of the Cretaceous period, short-tailed pterosaurs like Ornithocheirus replaced the earlier long-tailed varieties. They also started to grow much larger.

Ornithocheirus had the wing area of a small aeroplane, yet because of its hollow bones, its body probably weighed less than a human. Its wings were made of skin stretched between an enormous elongated finger, and its ankle. They were joined to the rest of its body and its legs. Using rising air currents, or "thermals", Ornithocheirus may have been able to fly hundreds of kilometres (from England to South America) without flapping its wings. This could account for the world wide distribution of its fossil remains.

The first fossils of Ornithocheirus were found in the Wealden Formation in Sussex, England in 1827. They were not formally described as Ornithocheirus until 1869. Despite the fact that only partial remains have been discovered, 36 species have been identified from the assortment of over 1000 bones. Most of these have come from the Cambridge Greensand which is a Late Cretaceous rock unit found near Cambridge, England.

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