Fun Gnathosaurus Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Jan 31, 2024 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Sep 25, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Come join us to read these interesting and mind-blowing Gnathosaurus facts!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.2 Min

The Gnathosaurus is a type of ctenochasmatid pterosaur. This dinosaur genus has two species under it, G. subulatus and G. macrurus. The species Gnathosaurus subulatus was discovering in 1833 in the Solnhofen Limestone region of Germany. The remains of the G.macrurus specimen, originally named Pterodactylus macrurus, were captured in the Purbeck Limestone Formation of the United Kingdom.

The meaning of Gnathosaurus translates to 'jawed lizard'. It is said that this species soared above the oceans, feeding on ocean animals. Its fossil remains go back all the way to the Late Jurassic period.

This dinosaur had an extremely wide wingspan of about 5.6 ft (1.7 m)! Juvenile specimens of G. subulatus were identified from the derived bones and skeletons that had previously been identified as those belonging to a separate species, Pterodactylus micronyx. Gnathosaurus subulatus is currently known only from the bones and remains available of the jaw and skulls. Another genus, Aurorazhdarcho, was earlier used as a synonym for the Gnathosaurus genus. However, the adult Aurorazhdarcho micronyx body has a skeleton without a skull. The two cannot be confidently considered to be of the same kind.

We are absolutely sure you will enjoy reading more fun facts about this amazing dinosaur. For more relatable content, check out these Zuniceratops facts and Homalocephale facts for kids.

Gnathosaurus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Gnathosaurus'?

The name of this dinosaur species is pronounced 'Naf-oh-sore-us'.

What type of dinosaur was a Gnathosaurus?

Gnathosaurus dinosaurs are a ctenochasmatid pterosaur type of dinosaur.

In which geological period did the Gnathosaurus roam the earth?

The Gnathosaurus species roamed around the Earth during the Tithonian stage of the Late Jurassic period. This species lived 167.7-139.8 million years ago.

When did the Gnathosaurus become extinct?

The Gnathosaurus became extinct about 139.8 million years ago.

Where did a Gnathosaurus live?

The remains of the two Gnathosaurus species, Gnathosaurus subulatus and Gnathosaurus macrurus were found in different regions. The fossils of the G. subulatus were found in 1833 from the Solnhofen Limestone of Germany. The fossils of G. macrurus were derived from the Purbeck Limestone of the United Kingdom.

What was a Gnathosaurus's habitat?

It is said that this dinosaur species was an oceanic pterosaur and probably a flying reptile.

Who did a Gnathosaurus live with?

Unfortunately, we do not know who the Gnathosaurus, meaning 'jawed lizard', specimens lived with. There is insufficient information on the history of this genus.

How long did a Gnathosaurus live?

We are not aware of the exact lifespan of the Gnathosaurus subulatus.

How did they reproduce?

Sorry, we do not know much information on the reproductive behavior of Gnathosaurus dinosaurs. 

Gnathosaurus Fun Facts

What did a Gnathosaurus look like?

The skull of this species was extremely slender and long. The skull was about 11 in (28 cm) long and was adorned with 130 needle-like teeth which were neatly arranged around the side of a slender spoon-shaped tip. It is said that this dinosaur probably led their life similar to modern spoonbills, grabbing food with their jaws.

We've been unable to source an image of Gnathosaurus and have used an image of Plataleorhynchus instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Gnathosaurus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

The Gnathosaurus skull was long and slender, embedded with tiny, sharp teeth.

How many bones did a Gnathosaurus have?

Unfortunately, there are no records of the total number of bones a Gnathosaurus had.

How did they communicate?

We do not know how the Gnathosaurus species communicated with each other. It can just be assumed that they might have used vocal and visual displays.

How big was a Gnathosaurus?

The G. subulatus specimen had an estimated wingspan of about 5.6 ft (1.7 m). Their wingspan was about seven times the wingspan of the Nemicolopterus.

How fast could a Gnathosaurus move?

Sorry, we are not aware of this information!

How much did a Gnathosaurus weigh?

We do not know how much the subspecies of Gnathosaurus dinosaurs weigh.

What were the male and female names of the species?

The female dinosaur of this species was called the Gnathosaura, while the male specimen was called the Gnathosaurus.

What would you call a baby Gnathosaurus?

Baby dinosaurs, generally, are called hatchlings.

What did they eat?

Sorry, we do not have this information. However, it is known that a Gnathosaurus subulatus was a filter feeder. This is quite similar to the Ctenochasma. It is speculated that the teeth formed a 'spoon' structure, which was thought to be the main area to catch prey. This dinosaur would swoop down from the sky, scoop up water in its mouth, and allow it to drain out through the teeth. This would leave behind invertebrates and fish within the mouth, which would be eaten by the G. macrurus and G.subulatus.

Liaodactylus primus from China is one of the earliest pterosaurs to have been discovered which exhibited this filter-feeding technique.

How aggressive were they?

Sorry, there is not much information available on how aggressive the Gnathosaurus was.

Did you know...

Hermann von Meyer was an important name in the dinosaur research field. He proposed a method of classification of all fossil reptiles into different groups based on the usage of limbs or the structure of limbs like toes. Similar to living species such as Protosaurus and Teleosaurus, flying limbs such as Pterodactylus, limbs like heavy mammals such as Iguanodon and Megalosaurus, and limbs used for swimming such as Plesiosaurus and Mosasaurus.

The Solnhofen Plattenkalk, commonly known as Solnhofen Limestone, is a popular geological location that preserves a rare collection of various fossiled organisms. These organisms range from large dinosaurs to soft-bodied organisms like sea jellies. This Jurassic Konservat-Lagerstatte houses fossils of many dinosaur species, including the feathered theropod Archaeopteryx.

The Purbeck Group is also called the Purbeck Limestone Formation, Purbeck Stone, Purbeck Beds, or simply Purbeck Formation. The Purbeck Formation is an Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous lithostratigraphic group located in England. Various insect remains, fossils of dinosaurs, crocodylians, chelonians, and plesiosaurs are found here.

Some dinosaurs to have existed during the Late Jurassic time include the Ceratosaurus, Chaoyangsaurus, Agilisaurus, Barosaurus, Othnielia, and Torvosaurus.

Did Gnathosaurus live during the Jurassic period?

Yes, the Gnathosaurus species did live during the Tithonian stage of the Late Jurassic period.

When were the first remains of the Gnathosaurus found?

Parts of the jaws of this dinosaur were first found in 1832. These jaw fragments were derived from the Solnhofen Limestones located in southern Germany. However, these jaw fragments were inaccurately believed to be the jaw piece of a Teleosaurid crocodile by the German paleontologist, Georg zu Munster. He was the one who titled and named the species Crocodilus multidens in 1832.

Following this, another German paleontologist, Hermann von Meyer, classified the same specimen altogether as a new genus and species, Gnathosaurus subulatus. Various scientists such as the German Albert Oppel compared the jaw fragment of various pterosaurs with the G. subulatus jaw fragment. These comparisons concluded that the latter species was more of a ‘flying reptile’, rather than a crocodilian.

In 1951, a better, more complete skull belonging to an adult pterosaur was found and was classified as that of the Gnathosaurus subulatus. Since the G. subulatus is known only through the remains of its jaws and skulls, and the adult Aurorazhdarcho micronyx is known only on the basis of its skeleton which lacks a skull, the two cannot be considered the same. Additionally, in the cladistic analysis carried out to analyze the relationships of both taxa, they were found to be distinct.

Another large specimen, originally called the Pterodactylus macrurus, is known from the United Kingdom’s Purbeck Limestone Formation. Being represented only with neck vertebrae and a partial lower jaw, it is considered to have a much closer connection to the Gnathosaurus, and the binomial name of this species has been changed to G. macrurus.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other dinosaurs from our Zigongosaurus fun facts and Becklespinax interesting facts pages.

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

Main image by Dmitry Bogdanov

Second image by FunkMonk (Michael B. H.).

Gnathosaurus Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Invertebrates and fish

what Type of Animal were they?

Carnivore or piscivore

Average Litter Size?


What Did They Look Like?

Slender, long mouth, and wide wings

How Much Did They Weigh?


Skin Type


How Long Were They?

Wingspan: 5.6 ft (1.7 m)

How Tall Were They?










Scientific Name

Gnathosaurus subulatus

What Were Their Main Threats?

Larger predators

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Near oceans

Where Did They Live?

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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