From Wikispecies
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Species of the month[edit]

Pterodactyl (flying reptile)[edit]

Pterodactylus antiquus, reconstruction.

Pterodactylus antiquus

Some facts on this reptile:

Body length: 0.75 - 1 m.

Period of existence: 150.8 – 148.5 Million years ago.

Range: Fossils found in France, England, Germany, and Tanzania.

Diet: Mainly fish; small animals.

First described: By the German physician, anatomist, anthropologist, paleontologist and inventor Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring in 1812, who originally named it Ornithocephalus antiquus.

Did you ever see a flying reptile? Probably not, unless you were living 150 milion years ago. You might have seen back then, in the Jurassic epoch, the reptile Pterodactylus antiquus take wing. It had wings formed by a membrane of skin, muscle, and other tissues stretching from the legs to a dramatically lengthened fourth finger. The skull was long with a pointed beak; the bones hollow and air-filled, like the bones of birds. It had nearly 100 teeth and a large crest, curved backward, made of soft tissue. There is a high degree of variance between juveniles and adults, leading to specimens of Pterodactylus often being mistaken for other species. Pterodactylus or "wing finger" is often referred to as a flying dinosaur, but this is incorrect. It is not a dinosaur but belongs to the order Pterosauria or "winged lizards", which are the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight.

See also: Species of previous months