Pteranodons are the greatest flying reptiles that ruled the airs of late Cretaceous and are thought to be extinct around 65 million years ago. They are still alive in our current world!
Here are a few facts about these flying reptiles:
- These reptilian ancestors can fly, thanks to their huge leathery wings which are extension of their forelegs.
- Their wingspan (from the left wing’s tip to the right wing’s tip) even touched about 8 meters in a few species.
- The hind legs of these graceful fliers were not so strong making these animals appear to be very awkward on land.
- They had bones filled with air to make sure that they got enough lift.
- Even with their strong and huge wingspan, they cannot lift into the sky right from where they stand.
- They normally nested and roosted in high cliffs and initiate their flight by jumping off the cliff. They were more like gliders than current birds which are more like helicopters.
- Since the leathery wings are more than enough to take turns in mid air, most species got rid of their tails or had very short stumpy tails in a view to reduce flying baggage.
In Picture: Artist’s rendering of a Pteranodon (Image Source)
- On cold mornings, these magnificent reptiles had to wait for warm currents to rise towards the sky so that they can use the thermals to rise themselves into the sky, even from the cliffs.
- They eat fish and tiny water creatures such as the crustaceans.
- The pteranodons used pair of long beak like structures to catch fish and anything that swam on the surface of the water.
- The mouth had a long and narrow upper beak, which is a single piece and supported by the lower beak that had two bones coming together to be fused at the front end. This allowed the reptiles to grab large fishes.
- Moreover, the bottom jaws had an extendible skin that would hold as many fish as possible to ensure that the parenting pteranodons had to make least amount of trips back and forth to the nest!
If they are so huge, how can anyone miss them while they are flying in today’s world! Even in smaller dimensions, one would not miss on these reptiles.
- These pteranodons did shrink in size and retained their bills while losing their crests.
- However, they did not lose their feeding behaviors or their dominating bullying attitudes.
- They still possess single piece upper bill and two-piece lower bill with the pouch hanging from below it.
In Picture: The skull of a living pteranodon and its egg.
- They still lay eggs and develop chicks by feeding them with the fish and creatures of water.
- They transformed their leathery wings to feathery wings, which means that their tail tufts also gained feathers.
- Even their names have changed, but they have retained the same starting and ending letters “P” and “N”.
So, the living “Pteranodon” is currently known to us as a “Pelican”.