Welcome to a dinosaur free painting! Nup, no dinosaurs here! And before I’m lynched for suggesting Quetzalcoatlus is a bird in the title, there are no birds in this painting either.
Quetzalcoatlus is a Pterosaur, and so far as we know, the largest animal known to have flown. Once you start imagining something as tall as a giraffe with the wing span of a Cessna flying about it begins to boggle the mind.
When I decided to make this painting on a bit of a whim I didn’t realise what a contentious animal Quetzalcoatlus was. Since its discovery more than 30 years ago it has yet to be properly ‘described’ by science, in part because its discoverer has hoarded it away and allowed only a tiny few workers in the area to examine the fossil. Despite 30 years of promises to spill the scientific beans, the beans have remained in their er.. scientific tin….
Pterosaurs as a group of animals are also contentious. Debate flows back and forth about many aspects of their anatomy, how they walked, how they flew, and what they ate.
In the end I was inspired by recent work carried out by Mark Witton and Darren Naish which suggests the family which Quetzalcoatlus belongs to may have had a lifestyle similar to ground based predatory birds like Hornbills or Storks. Mark is a talented illustrator in his own right and several inspiring images accompanied the release of the paper. Giraffe sized killers stalking around gobbling stuff up? What’s not to like?
A big thanks to Dave Hone for advice on the bizarre anatomy of these creatures.
PS: The little guy about to be dinner is Champsosaurus, he’s weird in his own right, if you want to know more I’ve discussed him elsewhere.