I will admit that songbirds can be lovely, quick-flighted and spectacularly colorful, but I have to tell the truth: I love the big birds—the predators, the raptors. There is something truly wonderful watching an eagle or hawk eye its prey and then descend from the clouds at lightning speed to nail his or her breakfast, lunch or dinner at that very moment.
As we were being driven up a Norwegian mountain, my wife, the Beautiful AP, and I saw a Golden Eagle soar high above us. He wasn’t flapping his wings; he was being driven by an airshaft. His speed was impressive.
His descent was awesome. We couldn’t see what animal he was hunting because the valley below was so deep, but I am guessing he enjoyed his meal.
Now, many readers are aware that the latest theory of bird evolution traces birds back to the dinosaurs. Yes, that little Blue Jay in your backyard eating the food you’ve laid out for him could be a direct evolutionary offshoot of the Tyrannosaurus Rex; after all, Blue Jays have been known to sever other birds’ heads! They take no prisoners.
The largest flying birds on our planet at the moment belong to the Albatross family. Their wing span can reach 12 feet. That’s impressive. The best eagles can reach is somewhere between six to seven feet. Still quite impressive.
Still these modern birds cannot match the prehistoric pterosaurs. These flying beasts had wing spans at times over 34 feet. These aerial brutes could weigh up to 500 pounds! Think of the power required to launch and maneuver 500 pounds.
The pterosaur could descend from the skies and eat animals that weighed close to 100 pounds. That correct; an entire class of grade schoolers would be in trouble if these monsters still existed today.
Both cadaverous and full-figured fashion models gliding down runways would be easy pickings for these monsters.
In my mind’s eye, I see the pterosaurs hurtling to earth like a comic book antagonist that Stan Lee created. These brutes would thud, crash, boom onto terrified victims, until a superhero could save the day.
There is one little wrinkle in the pterosaur family, one fact I must now disclose—winged as they were, they were not birds! Thus, our modern birds have no evolutionary relationship to them. They were more like bats than birds and scientists believe they were wiped out in the great meteor disaster some 66 million years ago.
But I do like to look at pictures of them; the great giants of the past. And perhaps one day, they will show up in a comic book.
Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. Frank’s books are available from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, and at bookstores.