Dinosaurs
Pterosaurs
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Pterosaurs are commonly referred to as Pterdactyls. However scientists prefer
Pterosaurs so this name is used.

Pterosaurs are not
dinosaurs, but a close relative. They lived alongside dinosaurs
and died out at the same time.

On the Ground
As well as flying, Pterosaurs could move on the ground. But for a while scientists
didn't know if this was using two feet (bipedal), or using four feet (quadrupedal).
We now know that they used four, from fossil footprints. However, we don't know
if they did this all the time. Some scientists think that small Pterosaurs could walk
or even run on two feet, but larger ones used all four like bats do now.

Body shape
The different types of pterosaurs all had different sizes. Ranging from 0.75m
wingspan and of the Pterodactylus to 11 metres wingspan and 135 kg weight of
the Quetzalcoatlus.

The pterosaurs are divided into two groups; the Ranforynchids had no crests and
tails, while the Pterodactylids had crests but no tails.

Most large Pterodactylids had crests on their head, possibly coloured brightly,
but different types of Pterodactylids had differently shaped crests. All were
narrow, but some stretched out behind their head in a triangle shape (as in the
picture on the left), while others were small rounded humps on top of their heads.

They didn't have feathers, but almost all scientists even think they might have
had fur, like bats!

What did they eat?
Pterodactyls were carnivores and scavengers. In the first months of their life,
they ate bugs and insects. As an adult they ate a lot of fish which they would
catch from the surface of the water by dipping their long beaks in as they flew
over, but they would also eat dinosaurs that were already dead.

When did they live?
The Pterosaurs lived all through the Mesozoic era. The Ranphoynchids lived in the
Triassic and early Jurassic periods; and the Pterodactylids in late Jurassic and
Cretaceous periods.

Where did they live?
They most probably lived close to the sea shores so that they had easy access to
fish. They also may have lived in large groups like some modern sea birds.

They lived in some parts of America, Guam, China, Japan, England, Germany,
France, Tanzania (in Africa) and many other places too.

When and how they were discovered?
Different types of pterosaurs were discovered at different times. The earliest to
be found was the Pterodactylus in 1784 in France by the Italian scientist Cosimo
Collini. He didn't think they could fly but thought they could swim. This seems silly
now that we know they have wings. Another species was discovered in 1876 by
Othneil C. Marsh, and one of the most recently discovered the gigantic
Quetzalocatlus found by Douglas A. Lawson. New discoveries are still being
made; in the 1990s there were several discoveries made to suggest that even a
larger pterosaur could have existed than previously known (Arambourgiania
philadelphiae).

How were they wiped out?
The last of the larger Pterodactylids were killed in the K-T extinction, along with
the dinosaurs. However, the Ranthourinchids were killed earlier, because they
could not compete with birds (which evolved around that time).


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