Fun Navajodactylus Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 20, 2022 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Oct 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Check out these amazing Navajodactylus facts!
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

Navajodactylus was an interesting medium-sized pterosaur genus belonging to the suborder Pterodactyloidea.

Its fossil remains were collected by Arjan C. Boeré as a part of an unrelated mission in 2002 in the Kirtland Formation, which is part of the San Juan Basin located in the state of New Mexico in the United States.

These remains, which made up the holotype specimen, only consisted of the first wing phalanx of the right-wing finger and were recovered from the deposits that dated back to the Upper Campanian of the Upper Cretaceous.

Two years later, a right ulna bone was found close to the location in New Mexico where the holotype specimen was collected and it was tentatively assigned to the same animal.

Thus, it was first named and described as a new genus called Navajodactylus by Robert M. Sullivan and Denver W. Fowler in an article published in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin in 2011.

Only a single species was referred to this taxon by Sullivan and Fowler, N. boerei, which is its type species as well.

It was noted that the extensor tendon process that was partially fused with the wing phalanx was very unique and unlike that of any other pterosaur from the Cretaceous period.

It is because of these features that this pterosaur was placed in the family Azhdarchidae.

Later, two of the finger bones were also discovered in the Dinosaur Park Formation, which is found in the province of Alberta in Canada, that were thought to belong to the genus Navajodactylus, but were recently found to belong to another azhdarchid pterosaur.

If you liked reading about Navajodactylus, you would love our Argentavis facts and Homalocephale facts pages.

Navajodactylus Interesting Facts

Was the Navajodactylus a dinosaur?

No, Navajodactylus was not a dinosaur, but a flying reptile called a pterosaur from the Late Cretaceous period.

How do you pronounce 'Navajodactylus'?

Navajodactylus, meaning 'Navajo finger', is the name given to this genus of pterosaurs by Robert M. Sullivan and Denver W. Fowler in their article published in 2011 in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin. It is phonetically pronounced as 'Nah-vah-hoe-dak-till-us'.

What type of prehistoric flying bird was a Navajodactylus?

This prehistoric animal was a type of pterosaur that belonged to the suborder of Pterodactyloidea. Members of this group generally have short tails, large wings, the presence of well-developed head crests, and a lack of teeth.

Since the open extensor tendon process of the wing phalanx of the Navajodactylus was considered unlike other pterosaurs and similar to some azhdarchids, it was placed in the family Azhdarchidae.

Pterosaurs belonging to this group usually have common features such as long heads and necks. This group also consisted of one of the largest flying reptiles of the geological Cretaceous period.

In which geological period did the Navajodactylus live?

Since its remains were recovered from the Upper Cretaceous strata of the Kirtland Formation in New Mexico, this animal would have lived during the Late Cretaceous in its Upper Campanian stage. It would have existed almost 75 million years ago.

When did the Navajodactylus become extinct?

Even though its fossils have not been dated back to later than the Upper Campanian age, this flying reptile could have survived longer and later than that. Thus, it is likely that this azhdarchid would have gone extinct due to the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event that occurred at the end of the Late Cretaceous period.

Where did a Navajodactylus live?

Navajodactylus boerei would have lived in North America in what is now known as the state of New Mexico in the United States based on the fact that it was found in the Kirtland Formation in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico.

It was also thought to have lived in modern-day Alberta, Canada as some fossils found in the Dinosaur Park Formation were earlier incorrectly assigned to this extinct genus.

What was a Navajodactylus's habitat?

From the research done on the deposits of the Kirtland Formation in New Mexico, it was revealed that the region would have been covered with forests and coastal plains with rivers running through it from west to east. The temperature would have been much higher as well.

Who did a Navajodactylus live with?

Though it is not known if this animal would have lived in a group or by itself, it would have coexisted with theropods such as Saurornitholestes and many fish and turtle species.

How long did a Navajodactylus live?

The lifespan of this animal is not currently known due to a lack of research and fossils. However, the average life expectancy of pterosaurs is considered to be in the range of 10-25 years.

How did they reproduce?

Not much is known about the reproduction process of Navajodactylus boerei except that it would've been oviparous, that is, it laid eggs from which its young ones emerged. It was noted that the hatchlings of some pterosaurs were quite developed but would not have been able to fly in their initial days.

Thus, their parents would have cared for them and provided them with food and protection till they could fly to hunt for themselves.

Navajodactylus Fun Facts

What did a Navajodactylus look like?

The Navajodactylus was a medium-sized pterosaur with a somewhat large wingspan.
*We've been unable to source an image of Navajodactylus and have used an image of Hatzegopteryx instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Navajodactylus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at hello@kidadl.com.

Since only a few fragments of this pterodactyloid have been found, not much is known about its appearance.

It would have been smaller than others of its kind with a long head and neck with some unique features such as the open extensor tendon process on its first wing finger.

N. boerei could have either had a blunt and deep beak, or a slender and thin bill, which are the two types of bills found in azhdarchid pterosaurs.

They could have also had an elaborate head crest and would have been covered with hair-like pycnofibers.

How many bones did a Navajodactylus have?

The total number of bones that a member of this extinct genus had cannot be calculated based on the fact that a complete Navajodactylus skeleton has not yet been discovered.

How did they communicate?

There is no information available about how these animals communicated with each other but their physical features like their head crests could have been used for communication or species recognition.

How big was a Navajodactylus?

The exact length of this medium-sized pterosaur is not currently known, but the Navajodactylus wingspan has been estimated to be 11.5 ft (3.5 m).

How fast could a Navajodactylus fly?

Although the speed and maximum height at which these reptiles could fly is unknown, pterosaurs have been estimated to have flown at speeds of 75 mph (120 kph).

How much did a Navajodactylus weigh?

The weight of this animal is currently unknown due to a lack of research.

What were the male and female names of the species?

The animals of this kind were given no specific names according to their sexes.

What would you call a baby Navajodactylus?

A baby Navajodactylus would have been called a hatchling or a flapling.

What did they eat?

The Navajodactylus diet consisted of fish, in addition to a range of mammals, lizards, smaller dinosaurs, and their hatchlings.

How aggressive were they?

They could have been fairly aggressive towards other creatures but would have been wary of bigger dinosaurs.

Did you know...

The pterodactyloid Navajodactylus from the Upper Campanian of the Late or Upper Cretaceous is the first discovery of a pterosaur in New Mexico. They were also one of the first pterosaurs found at a location in Alberta, but those fossils have since been attributed to a different azhdarchid genus.

Why is it called Navajodactylus?

The name of the genus was given by Sullivan and Fowler in their article in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin of 2011, and it honors the Navajo Nation of New Mexico combined with the Greek word for finger, thus the genus name meaning 'Navajo finger'.

The specific name, Navajodactylus boerei honors Arjan C. Boeré, who first discovered its fossils.

When was the Navajodactylus discovered?

The discovery of the fossils of Navajodactylus was first made in 2011 by Arjan C. Boeré.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Ludodactylus facts and Jeholornis facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Navajodactylus coloring pages.

Main image by Mark Witton.

Second image by Nobu Tamura.

*We've been unable to source an image of Navajodactylus and have used an image of Hatzegopteryx instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Navajodactylus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at hello@kidadl.com.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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