Flying dinosaur biggest airborne animal
By Steve Connor, 10.09.05
A flying reptile that lived 100 million years ago and had an 18m wingspan has entered the record books as the largest-known animal to have taken to the air. Scientists discovered the fossilised bones of the dinosaur-like creature at a site in Mexico and have calculated that its wingspan was nearly twice the length of a Spitfire's.
Details of the pterosaur, the first animals with backbones to fly, emerged at the British Association's Science Festival in Dublin. It was described by Dr David Martill of Portsmouth University from work carried out by Dino Frey of the German Staatlichen Museum fur Naturkunde in Karlsruhe.
Only fragments of wing bones have been discovered but their size and dimensions indicate that the animal must have had a wingspan of at least 18m.
The largest flying bird today is the wandering albatross, with a wingspan of about 3.5m, which means that some pterosaurs were more than five times the size.
"A Spitfire has a wingspan of 11m and has to be powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine," Martill said. "Pterosaurs did it on a diet of fish and a superb ability to utilise air currents, thermals and ground effects.
Read the full article here : New Zealand Herald - Flying dinosaur biggest airborne animal - Friday 09, September 2005 17:59.00 PM - World News