Habitat of the giant pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus Lawson 1975 (Pterodactyloidea: Azhdarchoidea): a paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the Javelina Formation (Upper Cretaceous) Big Bend National Park, Texas

Thomas M. Lehman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Maastrichtian Javelina Formation of southwestern Texas comprises a thick sequence of stream channel and floodplain deposits accumulated in a broad southeast-trending valley, several hundred kilometers inland from the Late Cretaceous shoreline. Three pterosaur species are found here. Remains of Quetzalcoatlus lawsoni, sp. nov., are concentrated in deposits of shallow alkaline lakes that developed in abandoned reaches of stream channels. Areas surrounding the lakes were vegetated with fan palms, and the higher floodplain supported a subtropical forest dominated by the dicot tree Javelinoxylon and araucariacean conifers. The shallow lakes were inhabited by a diverse invertebrate fauna of arthropods, gastropods, and bivalves, a likely food source for the slender-beaked Quetzalcoatlus lawsoni, sp. nov., which may have had a lifestyle similar to modern large gregarious wading birds. In contrast, remains of the giant Q. northropi are rare and found instead only in stream channel facies. It may have had a more solitary lifestyle and preferred riparian habitats. The warm, dry, subtropical but nonseasonal conditions of the region may represent a preferred climatic regime for azhdarchid pterosaurs generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-45
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Volume41
Issue numberS1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

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