Although the Pterodactyls lived in the same period as the dinosaurs, they are not considered dinosaurs. Initially, paleontologists did not have a specific description of what the dinosaurs looked like that caused them to confuse pterodactyls for dinosaurs at a given time. Instead of using descent or physiology to understand dinosaurs, paleontologists have used their imagination.
What were pterodactyls?
Pterodactyls were flying creatures that existed simultaneously with dinosaurs. They were not birds, rather they were flying reptiles. Reptiles were also known as pterosaurs. Unlike most cold-blooded reptiles, pterodactyls were warm-blooded. Their bodies could even generate heat. The pterodactyls were located in various parts of the world, including China, Germany and America. According to Zitteliana , a German scientific journal written in 2008, pterodactyls existed between two historical periods: the late Triassic and the Cretaceous. They lived among the dinosaurs and both creatures became extinct at the same time.
History of the discovery of pterodactyls
In 1784, an Italian scientist named Cosimo Collini discovered the first pterosaur with the name Pterodactylus. According to Colini, this was a sea creature that could row in the water with the use of its wings. Years after this discovery, Georges Curvier, who was a French naturalist, thought that the Pterodactylus creatures could fly. When another animal fossil was found in Bavaria, Germany, he named the creature “Ptero-dattilo”. Scientists used this name until they discovered that there were variations in the genus of flying reptiles. However, the term “pterodactyl” has remained popular among their circles.
Pterodactylus was derived from the Greek word “pterodaktulos” which means “winged finger”. The creature could fly and the wings were made of a muscular membrane and skin. A muscle membrane was elongated by the fourth finger of the pterodactyl. The second membrane ran from the wrists to the shoulders and included the first three fingers. On the other hand, the third membrane was between the creature’s legs. It is believed that it may have been linked to its tail.
Physical characteristics of pterodactyls
Physically, pterodactyls were very different from dinosaurs. The dinosaurs were very large, of enormous size, and were mammals and not reptiles. The pterodactyls had long necks with throat bags used for hunting their prey. They also possessed long skulls and needle-like teeth. However, a type of pterodactyl known as Quetzalcoatlus northropihe was toothless. Another characteristic of the pterodactyl was a crest on its head. The ridges were in different shapes. Some of them were carnal and had no bones under them while other pterodactyls had large bony ridges. There is controversy over what the function of the crests was. Scientists suggest that the ridges were used for regulating body heat, such as rudders during flight, or for sexual selection. However, only the second function has proved to be true.
The eating habits of pterodactyls
The eating habits of pterodactyls varied with their habitat. Those who lived in terrestrial regions fed on eggs, small dinosaurs, lizards, carcasses, insects and other animals. In contrast, those who lived in the water ate crabs and other molluscs, squid and other marine animals.
In conclusion, pterodactyls were not dinosaurs. They lived only at the same time as the dinosaurs.