Made very popular when it appeared in BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs as a species of Ornithocheirus, it’s actually a closely related cousin. Tropeognathus currently holds the record for largest pterosaur from both the entire Southern Hemisphere and early Cretaceous with a 8.2 meter (27 foot) wingspan. It’s easily identifiable by its twin convex keeled snout with dozens of interlocking conical teeth. It would’ve soared on rising thermal air currents for vast flights, and it’s snout keels would’ve allowed it to skim the water for fish while flying with almost no drag. Fish, squid, smaller pterosaurs and birds would’ve been its food of choice, and it wouldn’t have hesitated to use its large size to muscle onto scavenging sites along the beaches. The ancient cliffs of the Santana formation Brazil would’ve been alive with giant Tropeognathus soaring in and out of their perches, preparing for their grand seaward voyages.
- While it had a massive wingspan at over 8 meters, it’s wing membranes were actually very thin and slim. This is thought to have been to reduce air drag from wind currents, and it would’ve actually been quite speedy in flight without having to waste much energy flapping.
- The keels on its snout weren’t just for function, but also for fashion. Tropeognathus males are known to have had larger keels, and would’ve likely been brightly colored to attract mates.
- Pterosaurs like Tropeognathus with ocean soaring lifestyles are actually one of the reasons it’s so difficult to recover pterosaur fossils. If they died at sea, which may have happened more often than at land, the remains were likely consumed by giant oceanic wildlife never to be seen again.
- It’s name most appropriately means “Keel Jaw.”
Would you like to see Tropeognathus in Jurassic World: Alive?
How do you think it would be in game?
Dinosaurs we would Like #12 - Deinosuchus