Facts about Pterosaurs, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Pterosaurs

Pterosaurs



Pterosaur
Click here for more Pterosaur Pictures

Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Chordata
  Class Sauropsida
  (unranked) Archosauria
  Order Pterosauria
Pterosaurs (which means "winged lizard") which are also sometimes popularly known as "Pterodactyls" (which means "winged finger") were winged reptiles that evolved during the late Triassic period, about 220 million years ago, and survived until the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction, about 65 million years ago. Although contemporary with the dinosaurs, Pterosaurs were not dinosaurs, although they were also members of the Archosaur group of reptiles (the group that also includes dinosaurs, birds, crocodilians, and Champsosaurs).

The smallest Pterosaurs were about the size of a small bird, but the largest, such as Quetzalcoatlus had a wingspan of as much as 36 feet (11 meters). Most (or perhaps even) all smaller Pterosaur species seemed to have died out before the end of the Cretaceous period, and it is thought that this might have been due to competition from birds. By the time of the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction, only the Pterosaurs survived, and these of course died out during that extinction.

Pterosaurs evolved flight independently and separately from birds, but incorporated a number of bird-like features. Their bones were hollow and air filled, which reduced their weight, that had breastbone to which they flight muscles were attached, and they seem to have brain adaptations which would have helped them fly. It was once thought that Pterosaurs were mainly gliders, but today many scientists believe that atleast some species were active flyers.

Pterosaurs wings were a membrane that stretched from an elongated fourth finger of each arm, and joined to the body. Some paleontologists have argued that the wing membrane would also have joined to the hind limbs, but others say this would not have been the case - it is also possible that the extent of the wing membrane depended on the particular species. It is also known that atleast some Pterosaurs had webbed feet, and while it is possible that these may have been used for swimming, it is also possible that they may have assisted in flying.

There is also evidence that at least some species of Pterosaurs had hair. Pterosaur hair evolved independently of mammalian hair, and would have a different structure, although similar function to that of a mammals. The presence of hair suggests that Pterosaurs were probably warm-blooded ("endothermic").

When walking on the ground, Pterosaurs probably had a semi-erect posture. There was once much debate about whether they walked on two legs (bipedally) or four legs (quadrupedally), but fossil tracks that have been found, show they were quadrupeds.

The first Pterosaur fossil was found in 1784 by Cosimo Collini, who believed he had found a sea creature (although the eminent naturalist Georges Cuvier suggested that Pterosaurs were flying creatures as early as 1801, the aquatic hypothesis about the creatures continued to be supported by some scientists until at least the 1830s). Other early discoveries include a find of the Pterosaur Dimorphodon by Mary Anning in Lyme Regis, England in 1828.

Today, at least 60 different genera of Pterosaurs are known, and fossil have been found in every continent except Antarctica. Since Pterosaur bones were hollow, unfortunately they tended to be crushed when buried under sediments, so many fossils are poorly preserved. However, fortunately there is an exception - for some unknown reason the bones in Pterosaurs found in the Araripe Plateau in Brazil were not crushed during the fossilization process. Additionally, as already noted, fossil Pterosaur trackways have been found. Furthermore, one fossil Pterosaur egg has been found - which although squashed, was not cracked (suggesting Pterosaur eggs were soft and leathery) - contained an embryo containing well-developed wing membranes.

Because Pterosaur fossils are not always well-preserved, and there are many gaps in the fossil record, there has been much debate about how Pterosaurs evolved, and how to classify them. Traditionally, Pterosaurs are generally classified into two suborders - the Rhamphorhynchoidea, which were "primitive" Pterosaurs, with long tails and fingers adapted to climbing - and the Pterodactyloidea, which were "advanced" Pterosaurs, with shorter tails, long wing metacarpals.

Fossils of Pterosaurs have been found around the world including in England, Norway, the united States, Mexico, South America, and Australia.

Pterosaurs Timeline:



Pterosaurs were winged reptiles that lived between 220 and 65 million years ago

Pterosaurs were winged reptiles that lived between 220 and 65 million years ago


Related Information & Resources


See Also

Pterosaur Books


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Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy
By Mark P. Witton

imusti
Released: June 23rd, 2013
Hardcover (304 pages)

Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy
List Price: $35.00*
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Description:
Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy
  • Manufacturer: Princeton University Press
  • Brand: imusti
  • ISBNs: 0691150613, 9780691150611
  • EAN: 9780691150611
  • PartNumber: 36841174
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Number of Pages: 304
  • Author: Mark P. Witton
  • Publication Date: June 23rd, 2013
  • Release Date: June 23rd, 2013
Physical Description:
  • Size: 11.25 Inches by 9.0 Inches by 1.25 Inches
  • Weight: 3.24961374188 Pounds
Features:
  • Princeton University Press
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New Perspectives on Pterosaur Palaeobiology (Geological Society of London Special Publication) (Geological Society Special Publication)
By D.W.E. Hone & D.M. Martill

Geological Society
Released: January 18th, 2018
Hardcover (238 pages)

New Perspectives on Pterosaur Palaeobiology (Geological Society of London Special Publication) (Geological Society Special Publication)
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Description:
New Perspectives on Pterosaur Palaeobiology (Geological Society of London Special Publication) (Geological Society Special Publication)
  • Manufacturer: Geological Society
  • ISBN: 1786203170
  • EAN: 9781786203175
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Number of Pages: 238
  • Authors: D.W.E. Hone, M.P. Witton, D.M. Martill
  • Publication Date: January 18th, 2018
  • Release Date: January 18th, 2018
Physical Description:
  • Size: 10.0 Inches by 7.0 Inches by 0.75 Inches
  • Weight: 1.65 Pounds
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Live Pterosaurs in America: Not extinct, flying creatures of cryptozoology that some call pterodactyls or flying dinosaurs or prehistoric birds
By Jonathan David Whitcomb

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Released: November 2nd, 2011
Paperback (154 pages)

Live Pterosaurs in America: Not extinct, flying creatures of cryptozoology that some call pterodactyls or flying dinosaurs or prehistoric birds
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Description:
Live Pterosaurs in America: Not extinct, flying creatures of cryptozoology that some call pterodactyls or flying dinosaurs or prehistoric birds
  • Manufacturer: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • ISBN: 1466292113
  • EAN: 9781466292116
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Number of Pages: 154
  • Author: Jonathan David Whitcomb
  • Publication Date: November 2nd, 2011
  • Release Date: November 2nd, 2011
Physical Description:
  • Size: 8.5 Inches by 5.5 Inches by 0.35 Inches
  • Weight: 0.41 Pounds
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The illustrated encyclopedia of pterosaurs (Illustrated Encyclopedias)
By Peter Wellnhofer

Brand: Salamander Books
Hardcover (192 pages)

The illustrated encyclopedia of pterosaurs (Illustrated Encyclopedias)
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Description:
The illustrated encyclopedia of pterosaurs (Illustrated Encyclopedias)
  • Manufacturer: Distributed in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton Services
  • Brand: Brand: Salamander Books
  • ISBN: 0861015665
  • EAN: 9780861015665
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Edition: First Edition
  • Number of Pages: 192
  • Author: Peter Wellnhofer
Physical Description:
  • Weight: 2.6014546916 Pounds
Features:
  • Used Book in Good Condition
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TWO PTEROSAURS AND LITTLE DINOSAUR: DINOSAUR BOOK FOR KIDS AGE 4-8 YEARS (DINOSAUR SERIES FOR KIDS 3)
By JR. WILY

Kindle Edition (20 pages)

TWO PTEROSAURS AND LITTLE DINOSAUR: DINOSAUR BOOK FOR KIDS AGE 4-8 YEARS (DINOSAUR SERIES FOR KIDS 3)
Lowest New Price: $2.99*
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Description:
TWO PTEROSAURS AND LITTLE DINOSAUR: DINOSAUR BOOK FOR KIDS AGE 4-8 YEARS (DINOSAUR SERIES FOR KIDS 3)

Details:
  • Kindle Edition
  • Format: Kindle eBook
  • Number of Pages: 20
  • Author: JR. WILY
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Pterosaurs: Rulers of the Skies in the Dinosaur Age (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12)
By Caroline Arnold

Brand: Clarion Books
Released: November 18th, 2004
Hardcover (40 pages)

Pterosaurs: Rulers of the Skies in the Dinosaur Age (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12)
Lowest New Price: $15.84*
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Description:
Pterosaurs: Rulers of the Skies in the Dinosaur Age (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12)
  • Manufacturer: Clarion Books
  • Brand: Brand: Clarion Books
  • ISBN: 0618313540
  • UPC: 046442313544
  • EANs: 0046442313544, 9780618313549
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Number of Pages: 40
  • Author: Caroline Arnold
  • Publication Date: November 18th, 2004
  • Release Date: November 18th, 2004
Physical Description:
  • Size: 10.25 Inches by 10.5 Inches by 0.75 Inches
  • Weight: 1.3 Pounds
Features:
  • Used Book in Good Condition
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The Pterosaurs: From Deep Time
By David M. Unwin

Pi Press
Released: August 25th, 2005
Hardcover (352 pages)

The Pterosaurs: From Deep Time
List Price: $39.95*
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The Pterosaurs: From Deep Time
  • Manufacturer: Pi Press
  • ISBN: 013146308X
  • EAN: 9780131463080
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Edition: 1st Edition
  • Number of Pages: 352
  • Author: David M. Unwin
  • Publication Date: August 25th, 2005
  • Release Date: August 25th, 2005
Physical Description:
  • Size: 10.78 Inches by 8.44 Inches by 1.039 Inches
  • Weight: 3.20552128948 Pounds
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Pterosaurs: Flying Contemporaries of the Dinosaurs
By Andre J. Veldmeijer & Ilja Nieuwland

Sidestone Press
Released: December 31st, 2012
Paperback (134 pages)

Pterosaurs: Flying Contemporaries of the Dinosaurs
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Description:
Pterosaurs: Flying Contemporaries of the Dinosaurs
  • Manufacturer: Sidestone Press
  • Brand: Sidestone Press
  • ISBN: 9088900930
  • EAN: 9789088900938
  • PartNumber: unknown
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Number of Pages: 134
  • Authors: Andre J. Veldmeijer, Mark Witton, Ilja Nieuwland
  • Publication Date: December 31st, 2012
  • Release Date: December 31st, 2012
Physical Description:
  • Size: 10.0 Inches by 8.3 Inches by 0.4 Inches
  • Weight: 0.95 Pounds
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What Color were Prehistoric Pterosaurs? Prehistoric Times Coloring Book: (Prehistoric Times What Color were Prehistoric Animals, Volume 6)
By Mike Fredericks

Independently published
Released: November 24th, 2019
Paperback (57 pages)

What Color were Prehistoric Pterosaurs? Prehistoric Times Coloring Book: (Prehistoric Times What Color were Prehistoric Animals, Volume 6)
Lowest New Price: $9.00*
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Description:
What Color were Prehistoric Pterosaurs? Prehistoric Times Coloring Book: (Prehistoric Times What Color were Prehistoric Animals, Volume 6)
  • Manufacturer: Independently published
  • ISBN: 1711394289
  • EAN: 9781711394282
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Number of Pages: 57
  • Authors: Mike Fredericks, Tracy Lee Ford
  • Publication Date: November 24th, 2019
  • Release Date: November 24th, 2019
Physical Description:
  • Size: 11.0 Inches by 8.5 Inches by 0.13 Inches
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On the Wing: Insects, Pterosaurs, Birds, Bats and the Evolution of Animal Flight
By David E. Alexander

Oxford University Press
Released: October 1st, 2015
Hardcover (224 pages)

On the Wing: Insects, Pterosaurs, Birds, Bats and the Evolution of Animal Flight
List Price: $31.95*
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On the Wing: Insects, Pterosaurs, Birds, Bats and the Evolution of Animal Flight
  • Manufacturer: Oxford University Press
  • ISBN: 0199996776
  • EAN: 9780199996773
  • PartNumber: 9780199996773
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Edition: 1
  • Number of Pages: 224
  • Author: David E. Alexander
  • Publication Date: October 1st, 2015
  • Release Date: October 1st, 2015
Physical Description:
  • Size: 1.0 Inches by 9.6 Inches by 6.0 Inches
  • Weight: 1.00971715996 Pounds
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