|“||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!||”|
|Scientific name :||Ornithocheirus mesembrinus|
|Name meaning :||Bird hand|
|Time period :||Early Cretaceous period|
|Primary diet :||Carnivore|
|In the programmes|
|Fatalities caused :||One Fish |
|Appearances :||Walking with Dinosaurs (Giant of the Skies) |
Chased by Dinosaurs (Land of Giants)
|In the books|
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.
Ornithocheirus also had a cameo appearance in the first 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 dimorphismEditOnly 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.
- Ornithocheirus (which is really a Tropeognathus) had a wingspan of only 8.2 meters (27 feet) wide, much smaller than it is portrayed in the series.
- Ornithocheirus and Tropeognathus had pycnofibers on its' body.
- 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.