Dinosaurs»Dinosaurs Relatives »Pteranodon



Pteranodon from the tardy Cretaceous (santonian-campanian, 85-82 million years back) of North America (Kansas, Alabama, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota) was one of the biggest pterosaur genera. They were about 6 feet (1.8 meters) long, had a 25-33 foot (7.8-10 meters) wingspread, and weighed about 35 pounds; its standing stature was about 6 feet (1.8 meters).

They had big brains and excellent eyesight. Some pteranodons had long, light-weight, bony crests on their heads that may have acted as a helm or stabilizer when flying, or may have been a sexual trait. They had no teeth.

Pteranodon wings were roofed by a leathery membrane. This thin but hard membrane stretched between its body, the top of its legs and its elongated fourth fingers, forming the formation of the wing. Claws protrude from the other fingers.

It belonged to the Order Pterosauria, Suborder Pterodactyloidea and belonged to the relations Pteranodontidae. Other species including the faintly smaller P. sternbergi, had a wingspan of 6 meters (20 feet).

Unlike previous pterosaurs such as Rhamphorhynchus and Pterodactylus, Pteranodon had toothless beaks, like contemporary birds. Though they had no teeth, Pteranodons were carnivores. They ate fish (which they caught at the outside of the oceans), mollusks, crabs, insects, and scavenged deceased animals on land. They may have sought like modern-day pelicans, scooping fish out of the water and swallowing them complete.

Pteranodon fossils have been usually found in the Cretaceous chalk beds of Kansas. These chalk beds were deposited at the bottom of what was once an epicontinental seaway on what is currently the North American continent. The first Pteranodon skull was establish on May 2, 1876, in Smoky Hill River, Wallace region, Kansas, USA, by S. W. Williston, a fossil collector.

Pteranodon were reptiles, but not dinosaurs, similar to all other Pterosaurs.