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A Skimming Stork by Qilong A Skimming Stork by Qilong
One of the largest North American pterosaurs, Queztalcoatlus has captured the minds of both the scientists and non scientists who hear of this animal. It's name, coming from the Aztec Nahuatl language and meaning "Bird-Snake" (though largely accepted as "Feathered Dragon" or "Serpent" due to western ideas in play at the time--) derives from the essentially Mexican-American locations (all fossils derive from Texas), and honors the myths depicting a large, winged serpent-like animal covered in irredescent and multi-colored feathers.

Here, the species depicted is that as yet unnamed Q. sp., of which most of the skull and much of the skeleton is known, though it is just over half the size of the original species, Q. northropi. Note the extremely long yet surprisingly inflexible neck, and very short wings. However, study shows the short wings and likely the long neck and head may not have done much to inhibit its flight. More data suggests, using various lines of evidence, that this pterosaur was likely an opportunist on the ground, but could possibly have also skimmed for food. A distinct keel underlies the mandible, reinforcing the ventral surface.

As an azhdarchid, Queztalcoatlus also possesses unique wing phalanges that would resist higher levels of torsion than in typical pterosaurs, which have a triangular cross-section, while Q. and other azhdarchids had one that is T-shaped, allowing the bone to resist torsion as well as bending. These show there was a derived ability to fly, discounting the theory that it was so large as to be flightless.
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:iconatlantis536:
Atlantis536 Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Personally I think Zhejiangopterus is more like a stork, probably because it had no crest.
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:iconheytomemeimhome:
Heytomemeimhome Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014
You have an updated the scallops along this to quadrupedal pose?(yes I read your previous response, and I'm only asking because I'm pretty sure what's quetzalcoatlus could not stand bipedally at all, could be wrong about that though)
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014
I think most, if not all pterosaurs, can stand on their hind legs. It's whether they can run or even walk that way, which is debateable (and unlikely).
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:iconmichaelaw1:
michaelaw1 Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2011  Professional Writer
You don't run across much intellectual discourse on this site, not like this anyway. I dig the rendering and even more so the conversation on this piece.
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2011
Thank you!
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:icondeinonychusempire:
DeinonychusEmpire Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Wait, Q. northropi is the larger species. And do we know exactly what the crest looked like?
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2010
No. All that we have to date is the nearly complete arm.
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:icondeinonychusempire:
DeinonychusEmpire Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
That's good, because I recently drew a Quetzalcoatlus (haven't uploaded it to dA yet) and I wasn't sure what kind of crest to give it. I went with a simple round crest. xD
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2010
Sounds good! So far, very few azhdarchoids present themselves with any detailed information on crest variation, but similarly very few present with crests at all. There is a lot of "so-so" involved here in the choices you make.
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:iconeriorguez:
Eriorguez Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2010
Heh, azdharchids, and pterosaurs as a whole, have changed a bit in the last 4 years...
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:iconaslan3000:
Aslan3000 Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2008
well can u make the same pose for pteranodon
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:iconaslan3000:
Aslan3000 Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2008
did pterosaurs walked on their tip toes cause that's what that one is doing
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2008
Currently, large pterosaurs were flat-footed and walked with the heel on the ground. This pterosaur is depicted in an upright, "leaping" posture and is meant to be artistic, rather than biologically likely. It's possible, but unlikely, for the animal to extend up on its toes, but only if it was accellerating into the air after a leap upwards. The animal is normally quadrupedal.
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:iconemperordinobot:
EmperorDinobot Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2006
Impressive. Azdarchid pterosaurs are rather odd looking, and Quetzalcoatlus makes no exception. It might have been an awesome sight to behold!
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:iconavancna:
avancna Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2006  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Technically, it's "Feathered Snake," as "coatl" is "snake" in Nahuatl.
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2006
Ah, thanks! We get it "serpent" or "dragon" here a lot. The British were the ones, or the Spanish anyway, who come up with "dragon/serpent" interchangeability. But if 'tis would be snake, so shall it be...
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:iconavancna:
avancna Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2006  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yes, in Nahuatl, it's "serpent." I don't think the Aztecs had anything like a dragon, as the Europeans know it, the closest as far as I know would be the ahuizotl, a malicious otter-like beast with a hand on the end of its tail, and possibly the original form of the "Earth Monster," a gigantic she-monster fish that was slain in order to provide the firmament of the Earth (she's said to look something like an alligator-headed alligator gar). To be supernitpicky, his name means "bird-snake," but, as Quetzalcoatl's totem animal is always depicted as a snake with feathers, "feathered serpent" is the prefered translation.
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2006
By extension, no culture truly has the same concept we western-brained people would expect. The true "dragon," from the drakhos of Greek lore, would likely be akin to stories of giant crocs. This is largely why dragons in European tails were serpentine. Fire breathing and bat wings derive, likely, from later myths of hellfire and damnation. The Chinese "dragon," or long, is entirely different, often benign, hairy, and antlered, oftyen with manes and paws like a lion. Other cultures would have assimilated the concept of the Western "dragon" into the similar folklore of the region, conflating and confusing our ideas. However, I will change the translation over.
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:iconavancna:
avancna Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2006  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hah.
Technically, the lung had batwings, too, though, in Chinese art, animals are often highly stylized. The "batwings" are/were the coral-branch like appendages that emerge from behind the forelimbs in some pictures, and apparently helped their owners fly, much like the way halteres help flies fly. Despite this, many artists forget about them and omit these organs.
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:iconorionide5:
Orionide5 Featured By Owner May 18, 2013
Those are wings? I always saw them just as squiggly strands of hair protruding from the shoulder.
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:iconavancna:
avancna Featured By Owner May 18, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yes, those are/were wings: the fur/hair protruding from the shoulders tend to look more like a ruff.
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:iconnemo-ramjet:
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2006
Is the posture of this restoration in line with John Conway's "4 winged" reconstructions?
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:iconqilong:
Qilong Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2006
This posture is based largely on the other pterosaur postures I have drawn, and it doesn't even depict the animal running bipedally or preparing to launch. It is deisgned to only be a dynamic graphical interpretation of its movement. I suspect these animals were more or less quadrupedal on the ground, and thus running would be like having two stilt-walkers bounded together.
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