The Largest Flying Creature In History Was The?
The largest flying creature alive today is the wandering albatross, with an impressive average wingspan of 10 feet (3.1 meters). While that might be impressive by modern standards, you probably guessed we’d need to take a trip back into prehistory to find the largest flying creature. A very long trip at that: approximately 66-72 million years into the past, to the Maastrichtian age of the late Cretaceous period.
There we would find one of the largest know pterosaurs and flying creatures of all time, the Hatzegopteryx, or Hateg basin wing because of where its fossils were first discovered. The broad-winged dinosaur had an estimated wingspan of 33-39 feet (10-12 meters), putting it in a class several times bigger than the largest flying creatures today.
Hatzegopteryx is believed to have been the apex predator of Hateg Island in the prehistoric Tethys Sea. It had a very muscular neck with thick vertebrae as well as a very thick skull with heavy ridges (indicating where large muscle groups attached). Hatzegopteryx wasn’t a delicate bat-like creature, but a heavily muscled predator that swooped down, using its brawn to attack creatures much too large to swallow whole, but that could be subdued and consumed much like raptors have been portrayed attacking large prey.
Image courtesy of Mark Witton.