Top 10 Extinct Flying Animals: From Ancient Skies to Modern Imagination

Top 10 Extinct Flying Animals - Amazing Guide

✅Quick Summary

Step back in time and let your imagination soar as we take you on a journey to explore the top 10 extinct flying animals. From ancient skies to the present, these incredible creatures have fascinated scientists and captured the imaginations of people around the world.

  • In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of prehistoric flying animals and reveal the remarkable features that made them unique.
  • Discover the enormous wingspans of the Quetzalcoatlus, once the largest flying creature that ever lived. Marvel at the aerial acrobatics of the Pteranodon, with its long, pointed crest and impressive beak.
  • And learn about the bizarrely shaped Rhamphorhynchus, with its elongated tail and spear-like snout. Join us as we uncover these extraordinary creatures and shed light on the mysteries of their existence.
  • From their incredible adaptations to their role in ancient ecosystems, you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the diversity and wonder of the natural world.
  • So fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a flight into the past, where the skies were ruled by extraordinary creatures now lost to time.

10 The Pterosaurs

Pterosaurs are the undisputed kings of the sky and must be included in any discussion about long-extinct flying creatures. From the diminutive and nimble Pterodactylus to the gigantic Quetzalcoatlus, with a wingspan of up to 33 feet, these prehistoric flying reptiles commanded the sky during the Mesozoic era.

Wingspan: 1.4 m

Scientific name: Pterosauria

Head length: 60 cm

Domain: Eukaryota

Kingdom: Animalia

09 Haast’s eagle

Top 10 Extinct Flying Animals - Amazing Guide

The Haast’s eagle was once New Zealand’s most feared predator. This huge bird of prey, with a wingspan of around 10 feet, exemplified nature’s extraordinary adaptations by feeding on big, flightless birds like the moa.

Extinction status: Extinct

Scientific name: Hieraaetus moorei

Class: Aves

Family: Accipitridae

Species: †H. moorei

08 Archaeopteryx

Top 10 Extinct Flying Animals - Amazing Guide

The First Bird-Like Dinosaur

Archaeopteryx is an interesting example of evolutionary change since it represents the transition between dinosaurs and modern birds. This winged beast, also known as the “first bird,” shared characteristics with both reptiles and birds.

Mass: 0.82 – 1 kg (Adult)

Speed: 7.2 km/h (Maximum, Running)

Lived: 150.8 million years ago – 125.45 million years ago (Tithonian – Barremian)

Scientific name: Archaeopteryx (Ancient wing)

Length: 51 cm (Head to tail)

07 The Elephant Bird

Top 10 Extinct Flying Animals - Amazing Guide

The elephant bird, or Aepyornis maximus, lived in Madagascar. As evidence of their once-thriving presence, these enormous flightless birds left behind spectacular eggs before going extinct.

Scientific name: Aepyornithidae

Extinction status: Extinct

Kingdom: Animalia

Order: †Aepyornithiformes; Newton, 1884

Phylum: Chordata

06 Quetzalcoatlus

Quetzalcoatlus, a pterosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous, was one of the largest known flying animals. It represents the incredible range of life in the prehistoric period, with its wing span of up to 33 feet.

Wingspan: 10 – 11 m (Estimated)

Mass: 200 – 250 kg

Lived: 72.1 million years ago – 66 million years ago (Maastrichtian)

Extinct in: Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event

Extinction status: Extinct

Family: †Azhdarchidae

Genus: †Quetzalcoatlus; Lawson, 1975

05 Hesperornithi formes

Top 10 Extinct Flying Animals - Amazing Guide

The Hesperornithi formes were a group of extinct diving birds that were exceptionally suited to life underwater. During the Cretaceous period, divers among birds had specialized equipment that set them apart from modern divers.

Scientific name: Hesperornithes

Higher classification: Ornithurae

Rank: Subclass

04 Teratorns

Top 10 Extinct Flying Animals - Amazing Guide

Large, majestic birds called teratogens or teratornithids formerly swarmed the continents of North and South America during the Pleistocene epoch. These birds represent the majesty of the prehistoric skies, with wingspans that rival those of tiny aircraft.

Scientific name: Teratornis

Family: †Teratornithidae

03 Argentavis

Top 10 Extinct Flying Animals - Amazing Guide

Argentavis was another gigantic flying bird that lived in the prehistoric era and dominated the skies above South America. It gracefully flew across the ancient skies on its enormous wingspan of up to 23 feet.

Scientific name: Argentavis

Family: †Teratornithidae

Order: Cathartiformes

02 Hatzegopteryx

During the Late Cretaceous, there also existed the powerful pterosaur Hatzegopteryx. Its large beak and enormous wingspan made it the undisputed ruler of the European sky.

Wingspan: 10 – 12 m

Lived: 70.6 million years ago – 66 million years ago (Maastrichtian)

Scientific name: Hatzegopteryx (Hațeg basin wing)

Family: †Azhdarchidae

01 Pelagornithids

Top 10 Extinct Flying Animals - Amazing Guide

These extraordinary birds were collectively known as pelagornithids, and they stood out for having bony-toothed beaks. Actually bony projections, these “teeth” aided in the capture and consumption of slippery marine prey.

Order: Odontopterygiformes; Howard, 1957

Some Frequently Asked Questions about Extinct Flying Animals

What extinct animal can fly?


They belonged to a group of flying reptiles called pterosaurs. Pterosaurs ranged in size from the size of a sparrow to a small airplane, and are still the largest animals that ever flew. Along with dinosaurs and many other species, pterosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago.

Did flying dinosaurs exist?

Pterosaurs lived among the dinosaurs and became extinct around the same time, but they were not dinosaurs. Rather, pterosaurs were flying reptiles. Modern birds didn’t descend from pterosaurs; birds’ ancestors were small, feathered, terrestrial dinosaurs.

What was the biggest flying dinosaur?


Named for an Aztec deity, Quetzalcoatlus was probably the biggest animal with wings to exist. Quetzalcoatlus was the largest flying dinosaur in the history of the world. Even to this day, it is still the largest flying animal of all time. Still, this creature’s size is not without controversy.


The evolution, adaptation, and ever-changing history of our planet are all reflected in the skies that once housed these magnificent extinct flying animals. These top 10 creatures provide us a glimpse into the vast and compelling world of prehistoric skies, from the aerial dominance of pterosaurs to the cryptic divers of the past. The more fossils we find and the more we learn about these ancient aviators, the more we marvel at the extraordinary variety of life that has blessed our planet over the eons and at the mysteries that once flew above us.

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Harvey James

Harvey James, Author at I'm a passionate author on, seamlessly merges his academic prowess with his unquenchable thirst for exploration. Armed with a Master's degree from the illustrious Oxford University, I infuses my writing with the depth of knowledge and the art of storytelling. As dedicated traveler, my journeys resonate through his captivating narratives. My tales whisk readers away to far-flung corners of the globe, offering a front-row seat to his encounters with diverse cultures and captivating landscapes. From ancient ruins to bustling markets, each of my adventures unfolds like a cinematic experience. Beyond my role as a seeker of the world's wonders, I'm an unabashed foodie lover. My palate is attuned to the nuances of taste, and descriptions of culinary experiences are nothing short of poetic. Through my words, readers embark on gastronomic journeys, relishing the flavors, aromas, and textures that define a culture's culinary identity. Amidst my literary and exploratory endeavors, I thrives on a tapestry of hobbies. Whether I'm behind the lens, capturing the essence of my surroundings, or embarking on adrenaline-pumping outdoor escapades, I zest for life is infectious. My articles on are a testament to his multifaceted persona. Each piece is an invitation to embark on a journey of discovery, where knowledge, adventure, and gastronomy intertwine to create a rich and engaging experience. For inquiries and collaboration: Email: james@toptenmix,com Website:

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