Natural History And Fossils

The Story Of Life On Planet Earth

What Are Pterosaurs?

Pterosaurs were flying reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic era (Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous). All Pterosaurs wings are thin and the whole Pterosaurs body is lightweight to enable flight. The wing is basically a Pterosaurs hand, in which the pinkie is extended forming the wing shape. Pterosaurs are mainly fish eaters but some scavenge dead dinosaur flesh.

The First Pterosaurs

Like many creatures, Pterosaurs started off small. Only about 40cm. One of these early Pterosaurs was Petinosaurus which lived in the late Triassic period. Petinosaurus was mainly an insect hunter, it would have been very agile in the air to catch fast flying insects such as dragonflies. Petinosaurus had tiny sharp teeth to make short work of its insect prey. Other early Pterosaurs were Eudimorphodon and Preondactylus.

Size Matters

During the Jurassic Period, Pterosaurs exploded into all shapes and sizes. A wide variety of them evolved seeming to get ever larger. Some of these Jurassic Pterosaurs were Dimorphodon, Rhamphorhynchus and Pterodactylus. Dimorphodon's wingspan was 1.4m long compared to the 40cm long Triassic Pterosaurs thats a big change. Its size helped it catch bigger food. Same with Rhamphorhynchus who had a 1.8m wingspan. One of the biggest Jurassic Pterosaurs was Pterodactylus. Pterodactylus had a wingspan of 2.5m 

Cretaceous Pterosaurs

The Cretaceous Pterosaurs were the biggest yet! Perhaps the most famous of the Pterosaurs is Pteranodon. Pteranodon was also a fish eater. This monster had a wingspan of 9m in length! Thats the same size as a Stegosaurus! Another extremely large Pterosaur was Ornithocheirus. Ornithocheirus ate fish as well as dinosaur flesh. However the largest Pterosaur in the Cretaceous was Quetzalcoatlus.

Quetzalcoatlues's wingspan was 12m! Thats the size as Tyrannosaurus! With a wingspan of 12m, Quetzalcoatlus was the largest flying creature ever!

Image- Ornithocheirus