Pterodactyl Facts

Pterodactyl Facts
A pterodactyl (also referred to as pterodactylus) is a type of creature from the genus pterosaurs, most well-known as flying reptiles. The name means 'winged flyer' in the Greek language. Fossils of these winged flyers have been found in Germany, and other parts of Europe, as well as in Africa. The fossils date back to the Jurassic Period, approximately 150.8 to 148.5 million years ago. The pterodactyl is believed to have been a carnivore, likely consuming small animals and fish for nourishment. The wings were made up of a muscle membrane and skin which stretched from its fourth finger to its hind limbs. The pterodactyl is not classified as a dinosaur because of its body structure and other factors.
Interesting Pterodactyl Facts:
The true species name is not pterodactyl, but instead is pterodactylus antiquus, however most refer to it simply as a pterodactyl.
The wing span of the pterodactyl has been estimated to have been 3 feet 5 inches. The adult skull contained approximately 90 conical teeth.
The pterodactyl had a crest on the skull made up of soft tissue, which extended from the largest opening of the skull to the back of the skull.
Because the pterodactyl can vary greatly based on their maturity or age, some scientists mistook them for different species, however it has been determined that this is simply due to growth stages and the fact that specimens have been found for all ages of the pterodactyl.
The pterodactyl is one of the first pterosaur fossils ever identified. The first was described in 1784 by Cosimo Alessandro Collini, an Italian scientist. The fossil was found in Bavaria in Solnhofen limestone.
Cosimo did not determine that the pterodactyl was a flying creature. He speculated that it may have even been a sea creature, after ruling out birds or bats. The belief that the pterodactyl may have been a sea creature continued into the 1800s.
Paleontologists do not refer to this species as 'pterodactyls'. The word has become the common term for pterosaurs.
Birds today did not evolve from pterodactyls. They actually evolved from small, meat-eating land dinosaurs that were covered in feathers and lived in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
The size of the adult wingspan of the pterodactyl is not known for certain as no complete specimen of an adult has been found yet. The estimate of 3 feet 5 inches is only an estimate.
The pterodactyl flew by flapping its wings, referred to as 'flapping flight'. Earlier winged reptiles were only capable of gliding.
It is believed that the pterodactyl walked on all four, as opposed to the way birds walk, on only two.
Some scientists believe that pterodactyls climbed trees and took off, or that they launched off the sides of cliffs. Others believe that they were capable of springing into the air to gain height and take off with their wings.
The word 'pterodactyl' was invented by the French zoologist Georges Cuvier, in the 1800s, who determined that it was a flying reptile and not a sea creature. He is often referred to as the 'father of paleontology'.

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