Avian-style respiration allowed gigantism in pterosaurs

Graeme Ruxton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Powered flight has evolved three times in the vertebrates: in the birds, the bats and the extinct pterosaurs. The largest bats ever known are at least an order of magnitude smaller than the largest members of the other two groups. Recently, it was argued that different scaling of wingbeat frequencies to body mass in birds and bats can help explain why the largest birds are larger than the largest bats. Here, I extend this argument in two ways. Firstly, I suggest that different respiratory physiologies are key to understanding the restriction on bat maximum size compared with birds. Secondly, I argue that a respiratory physiology similar to birds would have been a prerequisite for the gigantism seen in pterosaurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2627-2628
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Birds
  • Bats
  • Scaling
  • Allometry
  • Limits to flight
  • BATS
  • SIZE
  • MASS


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