The Quetzalcoatlus – Feathered Serpent

Much of this content on the Quetzalcoatlus (excluding images) was excerpted from our upcoming book: A Guide To Sky Monsters: Thunderbirds, the Jersey Devil, Mothman, and Other Flying Cryptids (Red Lightning Books, 2021).

This flying or gliding Pterosaur was approximately eighteen feet tall with a wingspan nearing thirty-six feet, and scientists believe it weighed 300 to 550 pounds. The combined length of its legs and feet was nearly seven feet.

Quetzalcoatlus Facts and Speculation


The first Quetzalcoatlus fossil was discovered and recorded in 1971 by graduate student Douglas Lawson in Texas’s Big Bend National Park. In 1975, scientists named the reptile after the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, the patron god of the priesthood of learning and knowledge. Quetzalcoatlus means “feathered serpent.” We can’t know whether pre-Columbian peoples of North America witnessed Quetzalcoatlus in action, but a likeness of a large-winged, five-toed creature appears in some of their pottery and artwork.

Primarily terrestrial, this animal’s hollow bones and light-weight wings would have permitted it to soar off cliffs and glide for significant distances. Quetzalcoatlus could have easily preyed on small dinosaurs, animals, and some believe even humans—and assume they coexisted.

Quetzalcoatlus and Cessna comparison
“File:Comparison of Quetzalcoatlus and Cessna 172.svg” by The Nature Box is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Sky Monsters in the American Southwest

While stories of the Thunderbird and water monsters in the Northwest and Northeast share a common emphasis on the elemental battle between nature and man; the southwest legends share a more sinister theme that involves giant birds swooping down with little warning and carrying off people. Whether the Pueblo People base these stories on fossil skeletons or actual happenings as told in the petroglyphs and drawings on pottery, no one knows for sure. But they entice one to ask an interesting question: Did Pteranodons coexist alongside man in the American Southwest?

The Hopi – One of Many Stories

The Hopi were villagers and farmers known for stock breeding, weaving, and creating pottery. They lived in two-story adobe homes in northern Arizona. Each Hopi village was divided into clans, governed by a chief who served as the spiritual leader.

The Hopi Pueblos are close to the ruins of Puerco Pueblo and Petrified Forest National Park, where a petroglyph of a large bird holding a struggling man in its long beak has been chiseled on a sandstone boulder. Adrienne Mayor, historian and author of Fossil Legends of the First Americans (Princeton University Press, 2005), asked about the image. She was told this picture depicted “a giant bird that used to swoop down on the pueblos and fly away with their children.”

For more ancient Pterosaur depictions, check out this great article over at Genesis Park. You can read more of A Guide To Sky Monsters by purchasing your copy online here. This book also releases in bookstores everywhere on May 25, 2021.

Other flying cryptid or creature inspired posts:

Book Release Giveaway

To celebrate the release of our book, we have a giveaway going on until May 25, 2021? Click here to find out more and enter.

As always, thanks for stopping by and remember:

“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” –Ralph W. Sockman, American Pastor.

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