Spring 2014 Special Exhibition: The Pterosaurs Are Coming! main content.

Spring 2014 Special Exhibition: The Pterosaurs Are Coming!

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For 150 million years, dinosaurs were the largest animals to walk the land. Meanwhile, in the air, a diverse group of winged reptiles known as pterosaurs flew in the skies overhead.

Tupuxuara Pterosaur
The name of this crested pterosaur, Tupuxuara, is pronounced too-puh-SHWAR-a.
© AMNH 2014

You’ll have the chance to get a pterosaur’s-eye view of prehistoric Earth in Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs, opening Saturday, April 5, 2014.  

First appearing around 220 million years ago, pterosaurs evolved into more than 150 known species. Remarkable for their diversity, the animals, which became extinct 66 million years ago, ranged in size from that of a paper plane to a hang-glider, with wingspans ranging from less than a foot wide to more than 30 feet. While some pterosaurs had extravagant crests atop their heads, others were set apart by their teeth, ranging from peglike to bristlelike, likely well-suited to filter-feeding.

In Pterosaurs, one interactive invites visitors to spread their arms and fly like a pterosaur through an ancient animated world; another reveals more about how animals harness air currents to achieve powered flight, which pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to evolve, and which today remains, among vertebrates, limited to bats and birds.

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

The exhibition showcases pterosaurs' incredible diversity through rare fossils and casts of specimens from the Museum's own collection and also from those around the world—including a Rhamphorhynchus wing section with preserved soft tissue never before exhibited outside Germany and the upper arm bone of the giant Quetzalcoatlus northropi—as well as full-size models of several species. 

Dioramas, multiple interactives, and engaging videos highlight pterosaurs' environment, their movements on land and in the air, and how their bones fossilized to preserve specimens for millions of years. We hope you’ll come to the Pterosaurs exhibition this spring to learn more—and see for yourself what it's like to fly like a pterosaur! 

 Stay tuned for more about the exhibition, and learn more here.