Everything about flying dinosaurs or pterosaurs (winged reptiles) is really wonderful. Compared to other more well-known and studied species of dinosaurs, scientists have found it a bit more difficult to agree on these creatures, because archaeological findings have not been as abundant and illuminating. However, today there is a lot of information in this regard, and most specialists agree on the generic characteristics of the once kings of the heights, who were the only flying vertebrates on Earth long before the first birds emerged as they were. we meet today.
Thus we know that flying dinosaurs had different shapes and sizes and in this sense some were very small, like house sparrows, while others were so large that only one of their wings could emulate the size of a bus.
Likewise, like modern birds, these dinosaurs flew, although some only glided, laid eggs and nested high , and they had highly developed eyesight, with large eyes that allowed them to distinguish prey from above.
Their main victims in the food chain were fish and insects and thanks to their ease of flight they could escape from other hungry dinosaurs.
Having said this by way of introduction, and if you are interested in learning a little more about these dinosaurs, we suggest you take a look at the characteristics of some particular species, of the more than 100 discovered so far.
- Period: This species lived in the Jurassic period, between 150 and 144 million years ago.
- Location: Pterodactylus fossils have been found in some regions of Europe and South Africa.
- Diet: It was a carnivorous species.
- Wingspan: 0.91 meters.
- Approximate weight: 0.91-4.54 kilograms.
From the fossil findings it can be estimated that the Pterodactylus was one of the first species of the pterodactyloids, a subgroup of the short-tailed or tailless pterosaurs.
This species lived until the end of the Age of Dinosaurs and 27 fossil specimens have been found, most of them complete.
Thanks to this, the skulls of the Pterodactylus were discerned to be long and narrow, with about 90 large conical teeth in the front and smaller in the back, and extending back from the tips of both jaws.
In addition, the species had a crest on the skull, composed mainly of soft tissue and supposedly developed when the animal reached maturity.
Pterodactylus were surely excellent fliers and thanks to their pointed and sharp teeth they must have been able to feed on flying insects, small land creatures, and fish with ease.
Atlascopcosaurus is a genus that inhabited Australia in the mid-Cretaceous period, abut more than 110 million years ago. As a hypsilophodontid ornithopod dinosaur, this specimen was found in 1984 in the sediments of the Eumeralla Formation, off the coast of Victoria.
Little is known about him, also known as Atlas Copco’s reptile, since only an upper jaw and a partial maxilla with teeth could be found. From this and other species related to the genus it has been possible to infer some of its characteristics.
The description of this animal was made by Tom Rich and Patricia Vickers-Rich between 1988 and 1989, who gave it its nickname to honor the Atlas Copco Company that provided the excavation equipment.
In 1988 the Atlascopcosaurus was assigned to the Hypsilophodontidae; while today they are considered as a basal member of the Euornithopoda.
- Period: The species lived during the Jurassic period, between 155-150 million years ago.
- Location: Europe, from fossil finds.
- Diet: Carnivore
- Wingspan: 0.91 meters.
- Approximate Weight: Approximately 0.91 kilograms.
The Scaphognathus was another species of flying pterosaur that inhabited the Earth during the Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago. From the fossil findings it is estimated that it flew in regions of what is now the European continent.
Its wingspan in length between the wings was almost one meter (0.91 m) and its head was short, with a blunt, very rounded snout, which is why the species is also referred to as a “bathtub mouth”.The Scaphognathus had common features with the Rhamphorhynchus and a relatively large brain if its body size is taken into account. He also had 28 pieces in his teeth: 18 long and pointed in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower jaw.
- Period: Cretaceous, between 85 and 75 million years ago.
- Location: North America.
- Diet: Carnivore.
- Wingspan: 1.83 meters.
- Approximate weight: 13.6 kilograms approximately.
The Pteranodon was one of the largest pterosaurs. Their specimens had a small body, but specially designed to fly properly, to which their weak and small legs and their almost absence of a tail, which was very small, also contributed, together with their large wings. These own characteristics at the same time must have conditioned the estimated difficulties of the species to move on land.
According to specialists, the Pteranodon may have flown at speeds close to 30 miles per hour and its wings were three times longer than those of the largest contemporary bird, the albatross.For all this, it is calculated that he was the true master of the skies in the period in which he lived and despite not having teeth, his large size (some up to 7 meters) and his ability to fly made him a fearsome predator, although It fed mostly on fish.
- Period: The Preondactylus lived during the late Triassic period, between 215 and 200 million years ago.
- Location: Some parts of Europe.
- Diet: Carnivore.
- Wingspan: 0.30 meters.
- Approximate weight: 0.91 kilograms.
The Preondactylus was one of the earliest and smallest pterosaurs, perhaps even smaller than a modern pigeon.
Its teeth were small and pointed, indicating that it may have fed mostly on small fish it caught out of water and insects. Their wings were very different from those of contemporary birds or bats, measuring only 18 centimeters across.Similar to many other flying dinosaurs, the skeletal bones of this species were hollow and filled with air spaces, making them light and enabling them to fly effectively.
Also read: Anhanguera