TRIASSIC to CRETACEOUS
- 65 million years ago
Pterosaur was a flying reptile (commonly referred to as Pterodactyl
"wing finger") of the order Pterosauria. They are
mistakenly sometimes referred to as dinosaurs but they are not, instead
being classified as flying reptiles. They existed from
the late Triassic to the Cretaceous Periods (228 - 65 million years ago)
with the earlier Triassic species having long, fully toothed jaws and long
tails. The later forms had a stump for a tail, no teeth and a jaw
more like a beak than the elongated jaw of the earlier species.
least 60 genera of pterosaurs have been found with sizes ranging from a
sparrow to monsters with wingspans in excess of 40 feet! Most had
elongated heads and most likely fed on fish from aquatic sources amongst
the environments they inhabited, much like modern pelicans. Many
recent discoveries are coming to light of exotic large pterosaurs with
fancy, elaborate crests on their heads. Some of these crests are
made up of both keratinous material and bone. No doubt these
crests were used in flight for aerodynamic guidance. These crests
could have been brightly colored as a means of display for mating and
were thin membranes of skin, similar to the wings of bats, and extended
along the sides of the body. They
were attached to the extraordinarily long fourth finger of each arm.
The bones were hollow and had openings at each end. Unlike typical reptiles,
pterosaurs had a breastbone that was developed for the attachment of
flight muscles and a brain that was more developed than comparable
dinosaurs and other reptiles of similar sizes.
is no fossil evidence of feathers but some pterosaurs were covered with a
hair-like filaments called pycnofibre. Most researchers now believe that
pterosaurs were adapted for active flight, not just gliding as was earlier
Because pterosaurs are such
advanced and highly developed fliers, no known predecessors exist or
have been described making their ancestry an evolutionary mystery.
Misspellings: Terosaur, Terasaur, Pteradactyl, Pterasaur
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