– How did the 250-kilogram lord of the sky manage to fly?
The pterodactyl Quetzalcoatlus shows tremendous flying skills in the new movie “Jurassic World”. But experts are puzzled by how the giant lizard appeared in the air.
Warning light comes on in the cockpit, screeching while he’s there. A giant pterosaur falls from the sky, attacks the plane of heroes, cuts its turbines with its meter-long beak, and takes off again. Universal Pictures is using this scene to promote the sixth installment in the Jurassic Park film series. Even this synopsis makes it clear: The Rulers of the Air are giant flying lizards in the movie.
“Jurassic World: A New Age” opens in Swiss cinemas on Thursday. There is a scientific blurriness in all the films of the series; For example, most dinosaurs may not have been green-brown crustaceans as depicted, but rather brightly colored and feathered. Now some scientists from Japan and France have examined the aerodynamics of many primitive giants and concluded in the journal “PNAS Nexus”: Pterosaurs may have never had control of any airspace. He could only fly so badly. He spent most of his time on the ground.
The pterodactyl that appears in the movie is the Quetzalcoatlus; The genus is named after a Mesoamerican deity who is often depicted as a feathered serpent. Quetzalcoatlus, with a wingspan of more than ten meters, is the largest known pterosaur living in the Upper Cretaceous period, so it was a contemporary of Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. Like them, it became extinct 66 million years ago after an asteroid collision.
How did the pterosaur start?
The Quetzalcoatlus voyage has long baffled researchers. How did this giant lizard, which last estimates weigh about 250 kilograms, manage to fly? Even the beginning seems tricky: the standing Quetzalcoatlus resembles a giraffe; Because of its relatively short legs, its torso was probably too close to the ground for the animal to effectively flap its wings. Did he jump off a cliff to take off, or run down a slope like a glider?
Recently, the idea prevailed that Quetzalcoatlus jumped on all fours in the air to take off. But once he was awake, how did he stay awake? Given its size, researchers concluded years ago that it would be disproportionately cumbersome. They hypothesized that animals slithered and sailed through the air and used heat like the modern-day eagle or eagle.
But this was clearly not the case with Quetzalcoatlus. Scientists led by Yusuke Goto of the French research center CNRS have calculated how well modern and extinct birds, Pterodactyls Pteranodon and Quetzalcoatlus use heat to soar through the air. So all the extinct animals that were studied were fairly good gliders. But Quetzalcoatlus fell off the line. While everyone, according to the calculations, ascended effortlessly in a thermal upward current, the giant spiraled downward.
Bad flying characteristics
Quetzalcoatlus was very heavy. Due to its flight characteristics, its performance is worse than today’s giant bustard – these are African birds weighing almost 20 kilograms, which live mainly in the countryside and fly only in emergency situations to escape from poachers. Scientists imagine Quetzalcoatlus’ behavior to be similar. So he walked mostly on the ground, on his winged legs and arms. To hunt or flee, it can flap through the air for short distances. His weight did not allow for more.