Yet there is one species that dwarfs them all. He is Ornithocheirus. Twelve meters from wing tip to wing tip, with a body bigger than a man's. He's the undisputed king of the sky!

Walking with Dinosaurs: Giant of the Skies

Creature information
Scientific name : Ornithocheirus mesembrinus
Name meaning : Bird hand
Time period : Early Cretaceous period
Primary diet : Carnivore
In the programmes
Fatalities caused : One Fish
Several Saurophthirus
Appearances : Walking with Dinosaurs (Giant of the Skies)
Chased by Dinosaurs (Land of Giants)
In the books

Ornithocheirus was a huge pterosaur from the early Cretaceous (135-100 MYA) South American deposits.


Ornithocheirus was featured in the 4th episode of Walking with Dinosaurs, where the program followed an aging male during his last mating flight. In that episode, this pterosaur (and some others) were shown holding group leks, just like some modern birds, and possessing similarly bird-like sexual dimorphism: in particular, males had a crest at the tip of the snout which was used for display during mating and - to a lesser extent - for competition between males. Outside of mating, Ornithocheirus was apparently a lone pterosaur, the members of that species avoiding each other, preferring the company of other, smaller pterosaurs, whom they would probably occasionally harass to steal their catch.

WWD Ornithocheirus

Tropeonathus from WWD companion book.

Ornithocheirus also had a cameo appearance in the second episode of Chased by Dinosaurs, "Land of Giants". In that episode Nigel Marven identified this flying reptile as the biggest pterosaur ever, but that is incorrect, Quetzalcoatlus, Hatzegopteryx, and Arambourginia where bigger. Several large bone fragments from the Santana Formation of Brazil indicate that Ornithocheirus may have been one of the largest pterosaurs that ever lived, with a wingspan around 6–8 meters (20–27 ft) from wingtip to wingtip. With a body bigger than a human's, it was the undisputed 'King of the Skies.'

Sexual dimorphismEdit

Only the males had the crests on their beak, and males are a tiny bit bigger than the females. 

Portrayal in the seriesEdit

It was shown as the main character in Giant of the Skies episode.


A flying Ornithocheirus (Giant of the Skies)


  • Ornithocheirus was once thought to have more than 30 species!
  • Unlike Liopleurodon, the other oversized fish-eating predator, which has become a stock prehistoric animal and is frequently referenced, Ornithocheirus is still rarely featured in popular culture and is generally only appreciated by palaeontology aficionados - perhaps because it might be Tropeognathus, or perhaps because Liopleurodon is much more physically intimidating and impressive.


A toy of Ornithocheirus was made by Toyway for their Walking with Dinosaurs line. It is the rarest of the line as it was never commercially released, and could only be obtained in a giveaway, which makes it valuable to collectors.

WWD Ornitho Side

The rare Ornithocheirus toy


Start a Discussion Discussions about Ornithocheirus

  • The name.

    5 messages
    • You know, when you notice something you can add in a post, don't be shy, press edit button ^^
    • I know. I already did. But i say AWN-ith-oh-kyrus too.
  • Ruined presence on screen!

    • Ornithocheirus is '''b4d45s,''' but all it did was fly over to the breeding site. If he hunted more or ...

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