8 Amazing Facts About Pterodactyls – The Flying Reptiles

Priya Johnson May 14, 2019
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First discovered in the late 18th century, extinct Pterodactyls got the name from their elongated fingers that extended into wings. Pterodactyls lived in the same period as the dinosaurs, but are actually flying reptiles.

Pterodactyl - A Highly Confused Term

The term ‘pterodactyl’ is a pseudo name and actually means winged lizard. Founding father of paleontology, George Cuvier coined the term ‘pterodactyl’ in the 1800s.

Is Pterodactyl a Dinosaur?

Pterodactyls are not flying dinosaurs; they are flying reptiles. Dinosaurs have their legs placed under their bodies, whereas, reptiles have their legs coming out from their sides.

Pterodactyl fossils reveal the leg position as from the ‘side’, thus are prehistoric flying reptiles.

Are Pterodactyls Birds?

Pterodactyls possessed wings, but unlike feathered wings in birds, these creatures had wings made of skin and muscles. With a wingspan of over 3 feet, their wings stretched from their fourth finger all the way to their ankle.

Pterodactyl Species

Pterodactylus antiquus is the right taxonomical name for this flying reptile. Now this species comes under the genus Pterodactylus, and order Pterosauria.

Pterodactyl Mode of Walking

Pterodactyls are believed to have used all their limbs for walking. Fossil footprints confirm that these creatures used their two legs and two winged-forelimbs to move on land, making a waddling motion.

How Did They Fly?

Paleontologists believed that, they used their strong forelimb muscles to lift off from the ground. According to scientific research, these creatures flew at a low speed, flapping their large wings to give them momentum, and later in the sky, use the gliding movement.

Skull Crest

Pterodactyl fossil remains showed the presence of a skull crest, which is believed to be a sign of growth and maturity. The bigger the crest the older the reptile. The crest balanced out the weight of their elongated, pouched beaks.

What Did Pterodactyls Eat?

They would primarily feed on fish, small animals, and even large insects. Their diet would differ according to their ages; juvenile pterodactyls would feed on insects, while older ones would feed on fish and larger prey.
The knowledge about these creatures is limited by the 30 fossil remains found as of today. Most of the fossils found until now are estimated to be of young pterodactyls and not the adults.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about these beautiful, prehistoric winged creatures.
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