Pterosaurs Exhibition Opens Saturday, April 5

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Coming in just one month, the new exhibition Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs provides a kaleidoscopic introduction to the lost world of these extinct flying reptiles. 

Pterosaurs lived from about 220 million years to 66 million years ago, and the group’s 150 known species evolved into an astonishing range of sizes—just one of the amazing characteristics of this reptile group featured in the upcoming exhibition.


Preondactylus Pterosaur

This early pterosaur, Preondactylus buffarinii, had a wingspan of about 18 inches. A fossil cast of this pterosaur is featured in Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs.

© AMNH 2014

The earliest pterosaurs were relatively small flying reptiles with sturdy bodies and long tails—about the size of a seagull. These included Preondactylus buffarinii, found in the Italian Alps and dating back to around 220 million years ago. Later pterosaurs evolved into an array of sizes, ranging from that of a paper plane to giant, hang-glider-size behemoths, as you'll see in the exhibition. 


Nemicolopterus pterosaur

This tiny pterosaur, discovered in China in 2008, had a wingspan of about 10 inches. 

© AMNH 2014

In 2008, researchers discovered one of the smallest pterosaurs known so far—with a wingspan of only 10 inches or so. Found in China and called Nemicolopterus crypticus, this tiny pterosaur lived about 120 million years ago. You can see a model of its skeleton in the exhibition.


The preparation of Quetzalcoatlus

Behind the scenes, Exhibition Department preparators are creating life-size models of pterosaurs, including Quetzalcoatlus northropi. The fossil bones of this pterosaur suggest it had a wingspan of about 33 feet. 

© AMNH/C. Chesek


Meanwhile, you can also see a life-size model of Quetzalcoatlus northropi, with wings spanning around 33 feet. One of the largest pterosaurs known, it lived about 67 million years ago and was discovered in Big Bend National Park, in southwestern Texas.

Find out more about these amazing flying reptiles in a video.  

Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs opens Saturday, April 5, 2014.