Fun Scaphognathus Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 29, 2024 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Nov 23, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Know all about life and habitat of Scaphognathus.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.9 Min

Scaphognathus (Scaphognathus crassirostris) was the first flying vertebrate that existed during the late Jurassic period about 150 million years ago. They belonged to the pterosaur clade and Rhamphorhynchidae family. Three specimens are found till now from Germany. All the remains of this species suggest that they had shared immense similarities with the Rhamphorhynchus. Their skull was short with a blunt tip. The upper jaw had 16 teeth, which were oriented vertically. This brought out the conclusion that these pterosaurs were vicious predators and probably preyed on a variety of fish and insects. It had a broad wingspan of length 3 ft (0.9 m).

Paleontologists believe that their body was light-weighted due to the presence of hollow air-filled bones, which helped them to fly. The skull specimen also represented a bony outgrowth, which may have been their crest. This crest may have comprised hair-like structures made of soft keratin tissue, which failed to fossilize. Their head was wide with a specialized brain. A high level of muscular coordination was brought about by the enlarged cerebellum in these species, which made them excellent flying reptiles. Keep reading to know more intriguing facts on Scaphognathus.

If you want to learn more about different dinosaurs around the world, check out these Chungkingosaurus facts and Bradycneme facts.

Scaphognathus Interesting Facts

Was the Scaphognathus a dinosaur?

Scaphognathus was not a dinosaur. It was a flying reptile that lived around the late Jurassic period.

How do you pronounce 'Scaphognathus'?

Scaphognathus is pronounced as 'Ska-for-nath-us'.

What type of prehistoric flying bird was a Scaphognathus?

It was a pterosaur, that displayed remarkable anatomical similarity with the Rhamphorhynchus species. It belongs to the Rhamphorhynchidae family.

In which geological period did the Scaphognathus live?

These pterosaurs existed during the Kimmeridgian age in the Late Jurassic period. Several other species, like the Ichthyosaurs, also lived during this age.

When did the Scaphognathus become extinct?

The Scaphognathus reptiles became extinct about 150 million years ago. Paleontologists have not yet come up with anything to explain the reason for their extinction. However, it is assumed that they may have faced natural disasters like climate change, volcanic eruption, that led to their extinction.

Where did a Scaphognathus live?

The fossils of these pterosaur species were excavated from Germany.

What was a Scaphognathus' habitat?

Considering their carnivorous diet, which included insects and a wide range of fish, we can assume that the Scaphognathus species inhabited regions with water bodies, forests with lush green vegetation, grasslands as well as woodlands.

Who did a Scaphognathus live with?

Not much information has been found regarding their social life. We can assume that they lived either solitarily or in small groups.

How long did the Scaphognathus live?

The exact lifespan of Scaphognathus (Scaphognathus crassirostris) is not known. However, the lifespan of these species can be estimated from that of the modern-day reptiles, which is about 65 years.

How did they reproduce?

Although they were reptiles, these pterosaur species reproduced by laying eggs, just like the birds. Their eggs were small in size, which was buried in the ground. This burying of their eggs proved advantageous for them. It is due to the fact that their eggs were small in size and were unable to provide nourishment to the developing embryo inside. Therefore, it may have absorbed oxygen from the ground and expelled carbon dioxide, in order to derive nutrients from the yolk. This also ensured the safety of the eggs, which were predated by many dinosaurs. The female pterosaur may have cared for their young ones after they hatched out. Their specimen also suggested that sexual dimorphism was seen in these pterosaurs, with the female having a broader pelvis without a crest, while males possessed a large cranial crest and a smaller pelvis.

Scaphognathus Fun Facts

What did a Scaphognathus look like?

The fossil specimen of the Scaphognathus showed remarkable similarity with Rhamphorhynchus species in terms of their anatomy. The skull was short with a blunt protruding tip. They had enormous body sizes with wide heads. The head had a specialized brain with an enlarged cerebellum, which provided a high level of muscle coordination in these species. The fossil specimen also highlighted their broad wingspan of length 3 ft (0.9 m). The lower jaw was wide with ten teeth, while the upper jaw had eighteen teeth, all of which were vertically oriented and had a sharp needle-like appearance. They had a bony outgrowth on their skull, which was thought to be their crest. Their body was extremely light-weighted due to the presence of hollow bones, called pneumatic bones, which are present in the birds as well.

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

How many bones did a Scaphognathus have?

The exact number of bones of this species belonging to the genus Scaphognathus is not known due to incomplete fossil specimens. Three fossil specimens have been recovered till now, which provides an insight into their morphology. The skull, jaw, and vertebral bones have been retrieved along with the hollow bones of the wings.

How did they communicate?

We do not know their communication pattern in detail. However, most of the pterosaurs communicated both visually and vocally.

How big was the Scaphognathus?

Although the length of these pterosaurs of the late Jurassic period is not known, their fossil specimen suggests that the Scaphognathus size was enormous, with a wingspan of length 3 ft (0.9 m). It can be assumed that they were taller than Rhamphorhynchus.

How fast could a Scaphognathus move?

The presence of these hair-like structures on their head provided evidence of warm-blooded physiology, which compelled paleontologists to reexamine their specimens.

How much did a Scaphognathus weigh?

The weight of the pterosaur, Scaphognathus crassirostris, is unknown. However, paleontologists concluded from the study of the fossil, that these ancient reptiles were extremely light-weighted, owing to the presence of air-filled bones.

What were the male and female names of the species?

No specific names are given to the male and female species of these pterosaurs.

What would you call a baby Scaphognathus?

A baby Scaphognathus can be called a hatchling or a nestling, due to the fact that the pterosaurs laid eggs.

What did they eat?

The fossil comprised wide jaws of this reptile that displayed 18 sharp teeth in the upper and ten in the lower jaws. All of their teeth were vertically oriented. This concluded that they possibly led a carnivorous diet, which included a variety of fish and insects.

How aggressive were they?

The Scaphognathus of the late Jurassic period was highly aggressive in nature and was an excellent predator. They darted on the ground as well as flew high up in the sky in order to ambush their prey.

Did you know...

In 1831, the German paleontologist, August Goldfuss mistook this species as tailless and classified them as a new species, Pterodactylus crassirostris, which in Latin, means fat snout. Later in 1858, the German sculptor, Johann Wagner, recognized the different shapes of the snout in this species and referred to them as Rhamphorhynchus.

Why are they called Scaphognathus?

The mane Scaphognathus is derived from the Greek terms, 'skaphe', meaning 'boat', and 'gnathos' meaning 'jaw'. They were named so because of their blunt-shaped lower jaw.

How many specimens of Scaphognathus were discovered?

Three specimens of the genus Scaphognathus were discovered in Germany.

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 Zuniceratops facts, or Caviramus facts for kids.

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

Scaphognathus Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Fish, insects

what Type of Animal were they?

Carnivore

Average Litter Size?

N/A

What Did They Look Like?

N/A

How Much Did They Weigh?

N/A

Skin Type

Scales

How Long Were They?

Wingspan: 3 ft (0.9 m)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Reptilia

Genus

Scaphognathus

Family

Rhamphorhynchidae

Scientific Name

Scaphognathus crassirostris

What Were Their Main Threats?

Natural disasters

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Forests, grasslands, woodlands

Where Did They Live?

Germany
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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