Friday, October 2, 2009

New Scientist: Monsters of the Skies

Just ran across a cool gallery at New Scientist called Monsters of the Skies, running down some of the giant avian theropods and pterosaurs of antiquity. Featured are Haast's Huge Eagles from New Zealand's golden days as a haven of avian megafauna, Cessna-sized Argentavis magnificens from Miocene Argentina, and the magnificent Azdarchid pterosaurs. And my reasoning for this post is betrayed: it's an excuse to feature another Mark Witton pterosaur illustration. This time, it's the iconic azhdarchid Quetzalcoatlus nothropi, caught in the act of raiding a tyrannosaur nest. For the sake clarity, those are indeed baby tyrannosaurs - azdarchids were huge, but not that huge.

The Vultures Sing
Illustration by Mark Witton, via flickr

I might be laying it on a bit thick with all of this "avian theropod" and "extant avian dinosaur" business. From now on, I'll stick with the perfectly acceptable and beloved word "bird." But I'm also going to officially remove the Cretaceous barrier when discussing them. If a particularly charming titmouse ends up in my viewfinder whilst dining at my suet block, well, I'm not going to worry about justifying posting the photo here at LITC. I'm happy with this decision. It feels, in the words of Larry David, "pretty, pretty, pretty good."

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