The Pterodactylus antiquus, also called the Pterodactyl, was a Pterosaur genus of flying carnivorous reptiles. Pterodactyls lived during the Late Jurassic period. While they were not dinosaurs or related to them, they coexisted in the same geological time period as many dinosaurs and competed for the same resources. They had a long, narrow, pointed skull, with sharp elongated teeth lining their straight jaw. Juveniles had crests made of soft tissue on their skulls, which subsequently hardened as the Pterodactylus grew older. Their hind limbs ended in four fingers and their front limbs ended in fingers that evolved into membranous wings. Thin and hollow bones gave structure to the body and wings. Their remains were first found in Bavaria, Germany. 30 fossils have been found in limestone formations. Fossils were considered to be juveniles and the only adult specimen consists of a solitary skull. Pterodactyls were carnivorous animals that fed on fish and small animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) as their pointed teeth were similar to those found in carnivores. Birds of today have not evolved from Pterodactyls and instead are successors of terrestrial dinosaurs of the time.
No, Pterodactyls were not dinosaurs. They lived during the same time period but were winged reptiles. They are called Pterodactyloids or Pterodactyls.
The Pterodactyl pronunciation is 'ter-o-dac-til'. The genus name is actually Pterodactylus which is pronounced 'ter-o-dac-til-us'.
Pterodactyls or Pterodactylus are considered Pterodactyloids, belonging to the extinct Pteranodontidae family. They do not exist today.
Pterodactyls first appeared during the Late Triassic period, 215 million years ago, and lived for 150 million years until the Late Jurassic period (early Tithonian age) which ranged from 150 to 148 million years ago.
They became extinct at the same time as most dinosaurs. The Pterodactylus genus became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, 66 million years ago, when a large comet or meteor hit the Earth.
A Pterodactyl skeleton fossil specimen was found in Solnhofen limestone in Bavaria, Germany.
Pterodactyls lived in swampy and marshy lands. They lived in areas with strong marine influence; fossils of marine specimens were found at the same site.
Pterodactyls probably lived in mixed groups of juveniles and adults. Preserved Pterodactyl skeletons were found in groups of juveniles. Juveniles were probably more gregarious than adults. Adults could fly farther in search of food and other requirements. Scientists have not been able to gather more information on the subject.
The exact age or lifespan of the Pterodactyl is unknown. Scientists say most discovered Pterodactyl fossil specimens are of juveniles. There is evidence that they grew continuously throughout their lives.
Like a dinosaur, a Pterodactyl also laid eggs. It had a particular breeding season and was oviparous. The female laid eggs after internal fertilization and incubated them for a particular incubation period, after which young hatchlings broke out of eggs.
The head was narrow and pointed, with the jaw having elongated conical teeth. In this Pterosaur, teeth extended into the jaw more than in other closely related Pterosaurs. Although it was a flying reptile it was not related to modern birds. Teeth were arranged in a straight jaw. These winged reptiles had crests on top of their skulls. Crests were made of soft tissue in juveniles and hardened in adults. Their hind legs had four long fingers. It had wings made of a thin membrane supported with thin, hollow bones.
The exact number of bones in a Pterodactyl is not known even though many almost complete skeletons have been found. On its front limbs, metacarpal or palm bones were shorter but finger bones were longer.
Scientists believe that crests held importance during mating displays. Pterodactyls might have performed flight displays before mating. Pterodactyl sound consisted of continuous, shrill calls as well as slightly deeper, discontinuous groans. Vocalizations by these flying reptiles could hold importance in mating rituals, in warning enemies, and in general communication.
The Pterodactyl size was moderate among Pterosaurs. It was around 13 ft (4 m) long and the Pterodactyl wingspan was 3.4 ft (1.04 m). The adult size is only an estimation because even though 30 fossils have been found, they're all juveniles and the sole adult specimen consists of only a skull. The Pterodactylus wingspan is around half of that of a crowned eagle and four times smaller than an albatross wingspan.
Pterosaurs were very fast-flying reptiles. Larger pterosaurs could fly at speeds of 67 mph (107 kph) and could glide at 56 mph (90 kph). It usually glided instead of actively flying by flapping its wings. Pterodactylus Pterosaurs could walk on four limbs instead of hopping on their legs like modern-day birds or bipedal animals. The exact speed of the Pterodactylus genus is not known.
The Pterodactylus genus didn't have any particular names to differentiate between the sexes. There are no known physical differences between the two either. In the comparison between pterodactyl vs pteranodon, the latter's male is larger than the female.
The baby Pterodactylus doesn't have any particular name. Most fossils found were juveniles or babies.
Scientists discovered from fossil remains that the Pterodactylus species had a long narrow beak with sharp teeth. Teeth were conical and elongated which tells us that they had a carnivorous diet. Their diet consisted of fish, and small animals (both invertebrates and vertebrates). They could use their long beak or their fingers to catch fish and animal prey.
Information on their behavioral habits is scarce but considering their carnivorous diet and predatory instincts, they were moderately aggressive. They were probably territorial and protective over their area, females, and juveniles. The hardened crest in adults could have been used to attack rivals but hasn't been proven by evidence yet.
The species Pterodactylus antiquus, which lived in the Late Jurassic period or early Tithonian age, was the first Pterosaur remains to be discovered and named in history.
The largest Pterosaur species is called the Quetzalcoatlus. It is known to be the largest flying animal species of all time. It is considered an advanced genus of Pterosaurs.
Pterodactylus pterosaurs didn't practice active flight like the group of modern birds. Instead, they glided for flight.
Fun facts about Pterodactyls include that the Pterodactyl etymology means 'winged finger'. It refers to the front limbs which evolved to become membrane wings that ended in fingers.
Birds have not evolved from reptiles like the Pterodactylus or other Pterosaurs, despite the common misconception. Instead, modern birds are considered to have evolved from terrestrial, bipedal dinosaurs. Also, unlike birds, the Pterosaur didn't have feathers on its wings or bodies.
Considering the weight of a Pterodactyl, it would not have been able to lift a human and fly. Carrying a load of more than 88-110 lb (40-50 kg) without letting it affect flight would have been impossible. The Pterodactyl wouldn't have been able to eat a human either due to the large size and due to their teeth. Their teeth were not strong enough to consume bones and tough meat.
In the comparison of Pteranodon vs Pterodactyl, the Pterodactylus was a genus that included winged reptiles with teeth and lived during the Late Jurassic period of the Mesozoic era. The Pterodactylus was a carnivore that fed on fish and small animals. The Pteranodon was a genus of flying reptiles that lacked teeth and lived in the Late Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era. The Pteranodon fed on fish, mollusks, crabs, and insects. The Pterodactylus fossil was the first fossil found among Pterosaurs and the Pteranodon fossil was found much later. Pteranodon wings and body were larger in size and males were larger than females. Crest forms in the Pteranodon were made of skull bone while the crest in the Pterodactylus was made of soft tissue.
The Pterodactylus was a Pterosaur that created vocal sounds for communication. It created shrill, open-mouthed sounds and calls which were continuous; discontinuous calls which were deeper; and groan-like sounds. Unlike the Pterodactyl, dinosaurs could create close-mouthed, low frequency sounds too, but it is not known whether the Pterodactylus could do the same.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Thalassomedon facts and Atrociraptor facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Pterodactyl coloring pages.
Second image by Pearson Scott Foresman.