AAA2023 – Battle 15

Battle #15


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Quetzalcoatlus vs Sarcosuchus

Biomes: Coastal Lowland and Fernland

Morning mist settles across the dense fernland, the air heavy and moist. A small turtle sunning itself on a log is startled into the water by the swish and thump of gigantic wingbeats approaching from the west. A shadow the size of a small airplane flashes over the submerged turtle, the wind generated from its wingbeats swirling the mist into eddies. The Quetzalcoatlus has been flying for hours. It was used to encounters with tyrannosaurs like Lytronax, but its encounter with the Archosaurus, a strange predator from a different geological time, has set the pterosaur on edge. It decided to leave the desert and head for more familiar territory in the coastal lowlands.

The Quetzalcoatlus flies low along a large meandering stream, bordered on both sides by low-growing ferns, cycads, and gingkoes, overshadowed by giant redwoods. It has flown a long way and is tired and hungry. The pterosaur spots a sandy riverbank nearby that looks like a good place to hunt for fish and small vertebrates. It beats its powerful wings to slow down and alight, the wind generated from its 11-metre wingspan causing plants to sway. On the ground, the Quetzalcoatlus stands as tall as a giraffe, level with the lower branches of the giant redwoods. It uses its sharp claws and beak to start poking through the vegetation for food.

It does not see the Sarcosuchus lurking in the water nearby, with just its eyes poking up above the surface. The giant crocodile is still nursing a maimed forelimb and broken ribs from earlier encounters with Majungasaurus and Massospondylus. Unable to move with enough agility to catch smaller animals on the riverbanks in the last few days,  it is now very hungry. When it sees the Quetzalcoatlus, a creature with which it has little experience in its own time period, the Sarchosuchus  finds an easy way to get a large meal.

Despite being nine metres long, the Sarcosuchus can move with surprising grace and stealth. It swishes its powerful tail to propel itself through the water, making barely a ripple on the surface of the river. It draws close to the riverbank and the pterosaur is oblivious, concentrated on stalking small lizards sunning themselves on rocks under the ferns.

With an enormous explosion of water and foam, the Sarcosuchus launches itself onto the riverbank, banking on the element of surprise. It propels all four tons of its body weight towards the pterosaur, which squawks in surprise as it stumbles backward into deeper forest canopy. Normally the Quetzalcoatlus would take off and fly away, but the surrounding vegetation is too dense  to spread its wings. It turns to fight, clicking its razor-sharp beak menacingly.

The Sarcosuchus bellows, the low-frequency sound vibrating like thunder across the space between them. Although it is more at home in the water, the crocodile can move with surprising speed on land. It gallops towards the pterosaur, trying to snap part of a wing in its jaw. The Quetzalcoatlus shrieks and stabs downwards with its beak, aiming for the crocodile’s head. It misses, then manages to gouge a deep wound in the Sarcosuchus’ shoulder. Bellowing in pain, the crocodile erupts upwards as the Quetzalcoatlus pulls back from the beak strike. Its massive jaws crunch down on  flesh near the base of the pterosaur’s neck, drawing its head down. The Quetzalcoatlus screams and tries to fling the crocodile loose, attempting to free its head to use its beak. It tears at the Sarcosuchus with clawed hands, but the crocodile’s tough skin and dermal armour render the onslaught ineffective.

Ignoring the pain radiating from its shoulder wound, the Sarcosuchus holds on grimly as it begins to drag its enormous, struggling prey back towards the water. Quetzalcoatlus may be huge, but its hollow bones and gracile build make it lightweight, especially for an animal designed to eat dinosaurs.

Nearing the water, the Quetzalcoatlus makes one final desperate attempt to free itself, beating its enormous wings as it tries to shake the crocodile off. But crocodiles are tough, and despite being buffeted and pummelled by the huge wings, the Sarcosuchus manages to maintain its hold. With one last tug, the beast barrel rolls into the water, dragging the Quetzalcoatlus with it. Pterosaurs are not known for their swimming abilities.

The two animals slide below the water and the river runs red with blood.

Sarcosuchus Wins!