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What Was the Largest Flying Dinosaur?

The largest flying dinosaur was Argentavis, which had a 23 feet (7 meter) wingspan.

There have been other large flying creatures in world's history, but some of them were not dinosaurs and others did not fly, but rather glided. The largest flying dinosaur was Argentavis, also known as "Argentavis magnificens" which means "magnificent Argentine bird." It lived 6 million years ago in the region that is now known as Argentina.


Argentavis was so large that it probably had to run downhill in order take off into flight. It had strong legs and large flight muscles. Experts who studied Argentavis' fossils estimate the flying dinosaur had a height of 5.6 to 6.5 feet (1.7 to 2 meters) and it weighed between 140 and 180 pounds (60-80 kilograms). It could fly at speeds up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) per hour.

More about flying creatures:

  • It is estimated that the flying dinosaur Argentavis lived between 50 and 100 years.
  • Some types of Pterosaurs (ancient flying reptiles) called Azhdarchids, were even larger than Argentavis, with a wingspan of more than 32.8 feet (10 meters)
  • At present, the largest living bird is believed to be the Wandering Albatross, which has a wingspan of 11.9 feet (3.63 meters).

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the largest flying dinosaur ever discovered?

The title of the largest flying dinosaur is often attributed to Quetzalcoatlus northropi, a pterosaur with an estimated wingspan of up to 10-11 meters (33-36 feet). This magnificent creature soared through the skies of what is now North America during the Late Cretaceous period, approximately 68 million years ago.

Did Quetzalcoatlus northropi have any unique features compared to other flying dinosaurs?

Quetzalcoatlus northropi stood out due to its enormous size and distinctive proportions. It had a long, stiff neck, a sharp beak, and relatively long legs. Its wings were supported by an elongated fourth finger, and it likely had a lightweight body structure to enable flight, despite its massive wingspan.

How did Quetzalcoatlus northropi fly with such a large wingspan?

Quetzalcoatlus northropi's flight mechanics have been a subject of debate, but it's believed that it used updrafts and strong wing muscles for takeoff. Once airborne, it could glide efficiently over long distances. Its large wingspan provided the necessary lift, while its hollow bones reduced its overall weight, facilitating flight.

What did Quetzalcoatlus northropi eat, and how did it hunt?

Quetzalcoatlus northropi was likely a carnivore, feeding on small animals such as lizards, fish, and even baby dinosaurs. It is thought to have been a skilled hunter, possibly stalking prey from the air or foraging on the ground, using its keen eyesight and long beak to snatch up meals.

Where have fossils of Quetzalcoatlus northropi been found?

Fossils of Quetzalcoatlus northropi have been primarily discovered in the Big Bend National Park in Texas, USA. These findings have provided valuable insights into the morphology and potential lifestyle of this prehistoric giant, helping paleontologists piece together the puzzle of its existence during the Cretaceous period.

Are there any modern descendants of Quetzalcoatlus northropi or other flying dinosaurs?

While Quetzalcoatlus northropi and other pterosaurs are not dinosaurs and have no direct modern descendants, birds are considered the closest living relatives of theropod dinosaurs. Birds evolved from small, feathered theropods in the Jurassic period, and their flight adaptations have been refined over millions of years, leading to the diverse avian species we see today.

Discussion Comments


Argentavis was not a dinosaur except in the sense that all birds are (avian) dinosaurs. Argentavis existed approximately 6 million years ago but unfortunately all of the dinosaurs except for birds were wiped out 65 million years ago. Pterosaurs which were technically not dinosaurs were also wiped out in this extinction. Labelling Argentavis a dinosaur is somewhat misleading, because it was as much a dinosaur as an eagle is today.

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