プテロダクティラス Pterodactylus オーストラリア恐竜大陸
Pterosauria / Pterodactyloidea / Family: Pterodactylidae
/ FIRST DESCRIBED 1809 / FOUND: Europe: Germany, England; Africa; Tanzania / WINGSPAN: 1 m
/ WEIGHT: 5 kg / FOOD: Meat / YOUNG: Eggs / LIVED: Late Jurassic 155-146 million years ago
Pterodactylus was the first pterosaur to be described by scientists. It was found in Germany and was a near neighbour of Rhamphorhynchus and Anurognathus in southern Germany. Skeletons found in the Solnhofen limestone come in a range of sizes and different ages. The smallest example has a wingspan of only 18 cm, and the body was tiny, just 2 cm long. This was a recently hatched, baby pterodactyl. Its parents were three or four times as large. The largest type of Pterodactylus had a wingspan of 2.5 m.
Pterodactylus was the first known member of a new, more advanced group of pterosaurs. They had different proportions from Rhamphorhynchus and its relatives, and always had a very short tail. There are other differences in the skull, neck, hands and feet. The pterodactyl family includes the largest creatures ever to fly - the Cretaceous giants such as Pteranodon and Quetzalcoatlus. These great flying reptiles had wingspans the equal of small aero-planes. They most probably relied on hot-air currents to keep them aloft whereas Pterodactylus was an agile and active flyer.