Hatzegopteryx is a genus consisting of an extinct species of azhdarchid pterosaurs that belong to the family Azhdarchidae and the class Sauropsida. It has only one species, namely Hatzegopteryx thambema. Its appearance is based upon partial fossil remains that were discovered in Europe. Its skull fragments, its left humerus, and the rest of fossil remains suggest that it just might be the largest pterosaur of all pterosaurs that ever existed. The fossils of this pterosaur were first discovered in western Romania in Transylvania, at the Middle Densuș Ciula Formation of Vălioara in the northwestern Hațeg Basin. These fossils are estimated to be date back to 66 million years ago and belong to the Late Cretaceous period's late Maastrichtian stage. It is estimated that this pterosaur had a 9.3 in (23.6 cm) long humerus, 8.2 in (2.5 m) long skull, and a 39.3 ft (12 m) long wing span. The skeleton of this pterosaur is quite similar to the Quetzalcoatlus northropi remains discovered. It is also assumed that Hatzegopteryx may have been the largest animal that could fly. Had fun reading these fun facts? Keep reading to discover fun Hatzegopteryx facts about its habitat, skull, jaw, feet, fossils, and more!
No, Hatzegopteryx was not a dinosaur. It was an azhdarchid pterosaur.
Hatzegopteryx can be pronounced as 'Hat-zeh-gop-teh-rix'. This ptersosaur was named by Eric Buffetaut, a French paleontologist, Dan Grigorescu and Zoltan Csiki, Romanian paleontologists in 2002. Its name originates from its excavation site, Hatzeg of Transylvania, where fossils of its bones were discovered, and from the Greek term 'pteryx' that translates to wing. The specific name of its species 'thabema' originates from the Greek term that translates to 'terror monster'. The specific name 'thabema' was kept while keeping in mind the large size of Hatzegopteryx.
Hatzegopteryx was an azhdarchid pterosaur that has been placed in the family Azhdarchidae and the class Sauropsida. It is quite similar to Quetzalcoatlus northropi. Both of them have a thickened humeral head and a smooth and long crest. These features of Hatzegopteryx were the basis for its placement in the Azhdarchidae clade. However, they are also enough for it to be proved as a junior synonym of Quetzalcoatlus. However, there are also features that differentiate Hatzegopteryx from Quetzalcoatlus, such as the anatomy of its jaw and neck.
The Hatzegopteryx is believed to have existed during the Late Cretaceous period's late Maastrichtian stage, approximately 66 million years ago.
This pterosaur became extinct 66 million years ago!
The fossils of this pterosaur were first discovered in western Romania in Transylvania, at the upper part of the Middle Densuș Ciula Formation of Vălioara in the northwestern Hațeg Basin. Southern Europe was an extensive group of islands during the Maastrichtian stage. The inhabitants of the Haţeg Island ecosystem dwelled on the Tisia–Dacia Block, which was about 31,000 sq. mi (80289.6 sq km) in area. It was separated by oceans from other terrestrial regions by about 120-190 mi (193.1-305.7 km). It might have been endemic to its location.
These island-dwelling pterosaurs inhabited an environment that had various rivers, wetlands, and alluvial plains, that were enclosed woodlands comprising angiosperms and ferns mainly. The climate of its island ecosystem was most probably subtropical and went through wet and dry seasons. The climate was relatively dry with less than 39 in (990.6 mm) of rainfall. Azhdarchids possessed hind and fore limbs proportions that have been observed to be quite similar to those of the present-day mammals, suggesting that these animals were well-suited to their terrestrial life.
It is not known if these flying pterosaurs flew with others of their kind or in solitary. However, we do know that they co-existed many unusual animals of that period in the Haţeg Island ecosystem. They co-existed with pterosaurs such as the small azhdarchid Eurazhdarcho that possessed a wingspan of 9.8 ft (3 m), small-sized pteranodontids, flightless and robust herbivorous avialan, and dromaeosaurid Balaur. There were also many Insular dwarfs in its island ecosystem such as the hadrosaurid Telmatosaurus, nodosaurid Struthiosaurus, Iguanodontian Zalmoxes., and titanosaurs Magyarosaurus and Paludititan. There were also maniraptorans such as Heptasteornis, Elopteryx, and Bradycneme present. Fossils of crocodiles, lizards, snakes, and unusual lissamphibians were also discovered.
The lifespan of these 66 million-year-old pterosaurs has not yet been estimated by paleontologists.
These azhdarchid pterosaurs reproduced by laying eggs!
Hatzegopteryx was a large pterosaur that could fly. It has been estimated to be a little longer than Quetzalcoatlus. Its wingspan has been estimated to be 472.4 in (12 m) long! The skull of this dinosaur was also very long, estimated to have measured 9.8 ft (2.9 m) in length. Hatzegopteryx possessed a strongly muscles neck to support its robust skull. The neck of this pterosaur was stronger than the neck of the Arambbourgiania.
It is not known how many bones this pterosaur possessed. All we know about this giant pterosaur is that it had a robust skull, large wingspan, strong muscled neck, and a long skull. Its fossils date back to 66 million years and were found in Transylvania, western Romania, in the upper part of the Middle Densuș Ciula Formation of Vălioara, in the northwestern Hațeg Basin. The holotype excavated consisted of two fragments of the rear of its skull and a partial left humerus. New specimens of this animal have also been discovered by paleontologists that comprise large neck vertebra.
It is assumed that pterosaurs must have communicated through visual displays.
The length o this pterosaur has not yet been estimated. Its wingspan is estimated to be about 472.4 in (12 m) and its skull is estimated to have measured 9.8 ft (2.9 m) in length. It was larger than other terrestrial predators that co-existed with it during the Maastrichtian stage because of its huge size in an ecosystem that was primarily consisted of island dwarf dinosaurs.
Hatzegopteryx possessed a robust and large skull, but the bones of its wings were comparable to other flying reptiles, suggesting that this giant pterosaur was not flightless. The unusual internal structure of its skull had many hollows and small pits that let it reduce its weight. These pits and hollows made the skull resistant to stress as well as sturdy. It also enables the animal to fly. Its exact speed is not known, however, we do know that the speed of Q. northropi has been estimated to have been 80 mph (128.7 kph).
These giant pterosaurs of the late Cretaceous period have been estimated to weigh between the range o 400-550 lb (181.4-249.4 kg).
There is no specific name for the male and female pterosaurs of this genus of flying pterosaurs.
The baby of the species of Hatzegopteryx can be referred to as a hatchling or juvenile.
It is believed that Hatzegopteryx, similar to all other azhdarchid pterosaurs, was a terrestrial predator that foraged on land. It is speculated this pterosaur was the apex predator of its Haţeg Island ecosystem as the island primarily comprised of island dwarf dinosaurs and no humongous carnivorous theropods. It is also speculated that this pterosaur could have tackled large prey due to its robust anatomy and could have swallowed its prey as a whole. Other giant azhdarchids, such as Arambourgiania, are believed to have fed upon hatchlings, eggs, and small dinosaurs.
Thes Hatzegopteryx pterosaurs are believed to have been quite aggressive, such as dinosaurs, as they primarily fed upon large animals. They also possessed a large wingspan with a strongly muscled neck, suggesting that they must have been very powerful.
It has been estimated by paleontologists that pterosaurs initially started to exist on Earth 215 million years ago during the Triassic period and lived on for approximately 150 million years till the Cretaceous period!
Nemicolopterus is the smallest recognized pterosaur that possesesed a wingspan of approximately 10 in (25.4 cm)!
It is believed by researchers that pterosaurs took flight by jumping into the air!
Pterosaurs are believed to be the cousins of the dinosaurs!
Yes, Hatzegopteryx was a carnivore. It is assumed to be a terrestrial predator that focussed on preying upon large animals only due to its large size. It is believed to have been a significantly large predator in Maastrichtian Europe. It was a giant pterosaur of its ecosystem that comprised of island dwarf dinosaurs. It is also speculated that this pterosaur could have tackled large prey due to its robust anatomy and could have swallowed its prey as a whole.
Quetzalcoatlus is believed to be the largest known flying pterosaur of all time. Its fossils discovered from Texas, North America have been estimated to date back to the Maastrichtian stage of the Late Cretaceous.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Tupandactylus fun facts, or Thalassomedon facts for kids pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Hatzegopteryx coloring pages.
The main image is by Nobu Tamura.
The second image is by Mark Witton.