card
266

pterosaurs

OLogy Series
extinct animal
card
266

pterosaurs

OLogy Series
extinct animal

The first vertebrates to fly took to the skies about 215 million years ago. These creatures were neither birds nor bats. They belonged to a group of flying reptiles called pterosaurs. Pterosaurs ranged from the size of a sparrow to a small airplane, and are still the largest animals that ever flew. Along with dinosaurs and many other species, pterosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago.

Pterosaurs are closely related to:

birds

bats

neither

Are you right?

Correct!

Pterosaurs were their own group distantly related to other reptiles. However, they were more closely related to birds than to bats.

Pteranodons were a group of pterosaurs that were about 6 feet tall, with a wingspan of 20-25 feet. Scientists estimate that it weighed about:

25 pounds

75 pounds

150 pounds

Are you right?

Correct!

Scientists think that pteranodons weighed only 25 pounds. One reason they were so light is that their bones (like all pterosaurs) were hollow.

Pterosaurs and birds never shared the skies.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

The first birds appeared after pterosaurs, but the two groups shared the skies for at least 80 million years. But only birds survived the mass extinction about 65 million years ago.

The wings of pterosaurs were covered with feathers.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Their wings were more like skin that stretched from their bodies to an extremely long fourth finger. While pterosaurs did not have feathers, some were covered with a "fuzz" of thin fibers.

Pterosaurs ("winged lizard")
Locality found: All around the world
Age: Triassic to Cretaceous Period, 220-65 mya
Size: 5 inches to 30 feet long
Diet: insects, fish, small reptiles
Characteristics: reptile with wings supported by elongated fourth finger; hollow bones, strong flying muscles, large brains; some had large heads with crests and beaks; some had teeth
Significance: First vertebrate to fly

Image credits: Sean Murtha.