|“||Ornithocheirus. Twelve meters from wingtip to wingtip with a body bigger than a mans. He is the undisputed king of the skies.||„|
|— Allen, describing Ornithocheirus|
Ornithocheirus (or-nith-oh-keer-us; meaning "Bird Hand") is a genus of huge pterosaur that originated during the Early to Middle Cretaceous in what is now North America, South American, and European. One of the largest pterosaurs of all time, it had a 12 meters wingspan, yet due to a lightweight body of hollow-bones filled with air sacks, probably weighed less than 100 kg (the single heaviest parts being the crests and needle like teeth).
Era & DiscoveryEdit
Ornithocheirus lived during the Early to Middle Cretaceous period from 135–100 million years ago. During its time, it was known as the undisputed King of the Skies. Since its discovery in 1861, some of the best Pterosaur fossils have come from the Araripe Plateau in north-west Brazil.
Ornithocheirus was one of the largest pterosaurus ever to hit the skies, second after to the giant Quetzalcoatlus. With a wingspan of 36–40 feet (11–12.2 m) wide from wingtip to wingtip and a body larger than a humans, and their whole bodies weighed less than 100 kilograms, which allowed them to glide effortlessly over vast distances.
Like many larger pterosaurs, Ornithocheirus had an enormous head relative to its body length. The jaw supported numerous long, slender, pointed teeth, useful for catching a slippery diet of fish and squid. The crest of the Ornithocheirus may have offered some aerodynamic advantage in flight or it may have been an indicator of gender or for species recognition.
Behavior & TraitsEdit
These giants could have had a lifespan of over forty years and most of their lives were spent wondering the globe in search of food. When it was time to find a mate, they would fly as far as to the other side of the world, but will often be grounded because of heavy tropical storms. And the fine downy fur on their bodies needed to be kept dry.
They also often busied themselves with grooming themselves and were also often plagued by biting parasites that tapped into the blood vessels on their wing membranes. If males were to find a mate, they had to be in prime condition. They had to keep the parasites in check.
Like all giant Pterosaurs, Ornithocheirus could use their enormous wings to ride on the warm air currents that rise over land. Male Ornithocheirus advertise their vigor and size to ward of rival males…and to attract females out of the air. Males flash their red crests to impress females. Mating itself however is brief. Afterwards, the males will resume displaying…in hopes of attracting more females. The females themselves however will leave. When males die from heat stress and lack of food, which will all but kill them, the King of the Skies will lose their majesty. But they will become food for the next generation. Although as long traveling as their lives are, Ornithocheirus is, without a doubt, the second biggest creature that has ever flown.
|“||Ornithocheirus is one of the largest pterosaurs that ever ruled the skies, after the magnificent Quetzalcoatlus. Living a life-span of over forty years, these giants of the skies traveled all across the planet.||„|
|— Allen, in his Journal, about Ornithocheirus|