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by AMNH on
In the run-up to Saturday’s opening of the new exhibition Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs, we’re highlighting one species a day from this amazing flying reptile group. Wednesday’s is Jeholopterus ningchengensis, which lived about 130 million years ago.
Discovered in 2002 in northeastern China, Jeholopterus (je-hol-OP-ter-us) had a wingspan of about 3 feet (0.9 meters), approximately that of a Mallard Duck.
Pterosaurs were of course reptiles, closely related to dinosaurs and crocodiles, and like lizards and snakes living today. But instead of having scales, pterosaurs, including Jeholopterus, were covered in hairlike fibers called pycnofibers.
With its broad, short wings, Jeholopterus ningchengensis could bob and weave through branches and reeds to chase down insects. Once this agile hunter got close enough to its prey, it could snatch an insect right out of the air with its small jaws and tiny, sharp teeth.
In the Pterosaurs exhibition, the "Fly Like a Pterosaur" interactive gives you the chance to hunt like this forest-dwelling species: across from a large-screen, you flap your arms to maneuver a flying Jeholopterus avatar, as it hunts insects. You may find that it’s harder than it looks!