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Largest Flying Animal Ever Takes Flight Again in the Science Museum of Virginia

It’s NOT a bird, it’s NOT a plane, it’s NOT a dinosaur, it’s Quetzalcoatlus.




This week, the Science Museum of Virginia installed a three-dimensional sculpture of an ancient flying reptile in its “Speed” exhibition.

The Quetzalcoatlus (pronounced ket-zel-co-WAT-luss) is suspended from the ceiling of the historic train station, visible from three floors as guests move through the Science Museum’s building. It is depicted in flight, wings outstretched to 37 feet. Its 28-foot-long tilted body is covered in millions of hand-painted pycnofibers, a fluffy body covering, and its massive mouth is open, all details meant to bring the creature to life.

The Quetzalcoatlus was a prehistoric reptile, the largest flying animal known to science. While related to dinosaurs, it was not a dinosaur. The Quetzalcoatlus was a nearly 500-pound pterosaur (pronounced with a silent p) that lived between 70 and 66 million years ago.

Created by the world’s top manufacturer of museum-quality scientifically accurate animals, the Science Museum’s newest exhibit is the largest Quetzalcoatlus ever produced, the only Quetzalcoatlus ever made with its mouth open and the only Quetzalcoatlus with this coloring due to a custom paint job.

To celebrate the new addition, the Science Museum is hosting a Prehistoric Party. On Friday, May 10, the special family friendly Science After Dark will not only give guests the chance to see the Quetzalcoatlus, but will also feature hands-on activities related to ancient plants, stars and animals.

Science After Dark: Prehistoric Party is a one-time event from 5 to 8 p.m. on May 10. The Quetzalcoatlus is a permanent addition to the “Speed” exhibition and will be on display for guests to enjoy for years to come.

People expect to see dinosaurs when they visit a science museum, but the Science Museum of Virginia wants to give guests something even better: the unexpected. The Quetzalcoatlus showcases a prehistoric creature that is a dinosaur relative and lived among dinosaurs, but may be less known and understood. It is mysterious, impressive and awe-inspiring just like a dinosaur, and will deliver a moment of discovery and delight for guests of all ages.

Science After Dark activities are included with Science Museum admission. All guests, including members, are encouraged to reserve their tickets on the Science Museum’s website before the event. Tickets will only be available at the door if the event is not sold out.

Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23220

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.