Authors: Sankar Chatterjee and R.J. Templin
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Pterosaurs were flying archosaurs that lived during the age of dinosaurs from 225 million to 65 million years ago. The ecology of pterosaurs was similar to those of modern seabirds, spending much time in coastal areas for feeding. Small and medium-size pterosaurs probably foraged by plunge diving like modern pelicans. Large pterodactyloids were probably active waders or surface riders during feeding, using their feet to propel while folding their wings sidewise. This volume investigates the flight performance of pterosaurs using 10 genera in a wide size spectrum during their 160 million years of evolution. With body masses ranging from 0.015 kg to 70 kg and wingspans from 0.4 m to 10.4 m, the largest pterosaur weighed about 4700 times more than the smallest species, and the longest wingspan was 25 times the shortest. The authors adapted helicopter momentum stream tube theory to estimate the scaling of aerial locomotion of pterosaurs and to minimize the complexities of animal physiology. Detailed figures illustrate findings on gliding performance, angles, and airspeed, styles of flight, and takeoffs and landings. Possible functions of the pterosaur’s physiological features also are explored.