Pterodactyls Not a Flying Dinosaur
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage Ceylon Today Features
If you were a fan of the Jurassic Park movies, you’d most likely remember this curious creature. Although one of the most interesting creatures in the movie series, (both the old and new franchises by the way), you might be surprised to know that these creatures aren’t even dinosaurs in the first place, even though they did live in the same era.
You might have heard of them being called Pterodactyls, but that’s a small mistake. The actual pterodactyl is a lot smaller than the average human, while this giant creature is a lot bigger than a pterodactyl. If fact, these two flying reptiles lived in two different periods, with the pterodactyl living in the Late Jurassic period while this creature was found to be living in the Late Cretaceous period, many millions of years apart in time, with the pterodactyl appearing first.
So what is the true name of this giant flying reptile? It’s name is the Pteranodon. Said to have been around two metres long, with a wingspan of more than seven metres, this giant flying reptile was one of largest of its kind.
Not a dinosaur?
Surprisingly, not every reptile living on the earth millions of years ago was a dinosaur. They were only one type of giant reptile that lived on the planet during that era. Although featured in many dinosaur movies and stories, the Pteranodon just doesn’t fall into the category of dinosaur. That doesn’t mean that these giant reptiles are any less cooler though.
Flying fish eater
Much like the bats of the modern day, Pteranodons had a membrane of skin and muscle connecting their upper and lower limbs, which gave them the ability to fly. Scientists who have studied the many Pteranodon fossils that have been discovered, believe that these giant flying reptiles had the ability to fly much like the albatrosses of the modern day.
Using their ability to fly, Pteranodon was mainly a fish-eater according to studies, and was a very talented hunter of the sea.
Unlike all the other species similar to the Pteranodon, such as the Pterodactyl, these flying reptiles are thought to not have any teeth in their long, elongated bills - much like the birds we know of today.
Pteranodon also had a very unique crest at the top of their heads, which could have been used for steering while flying or for displays like peacocks do.
Are they the ancestors of birds?
Since these were some of the most notable flying reptiles in the world, you might wonder if they and other flying reptiles share an evolutionary link to modern species of birds. Unfortunately, there is no such connection discovered yet.
In fact, birds have a stronger evolutionary link to theropod dinosaurs such as the Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus according to what scientists have to say.
While we might not see any Pteranodons around in the world today, we have discovered a lot through studying the many fossils that have been uncovered over time. Although it would have been cool to live in a time where we could see these giant flying lizards soaring through the air, I’m glad that the only time I get to see one today is in a museum.