A Brief History of the Flying Reptiles

Dinosaurs, History

While commonly known as Pterodactyls, winged reptiles from the age of the dinosaurs are actually called pterosaurs. So far, scientists have been able to identify at least 130 different kinds of pterosaurs. The pterosaurs did live among dinosaurs, and many people do consider them to belong to the same species. However, these were not dinosaurs as such.

Pterosaurs were first discovered in 1784 by Cosimo Collini, an Italian scientist. In 1801, Georges Cuvier put forth the theory that these animals could fly, and the term Pterodactyl was coined for the first pterosaur that was discovered.

The Flight of Pterosaurs

These animals were originally thought to have been cold-blooded. This meant that they were more likely to have glided their way across the world rather than flying actively. Later, it was discovered that some varieties actually had furry coats which suggested that they were actually warm-blooded.

In a study in 2010, it was revealed that these animals had very powerful muscles for flying. These muscles also allowed to walk on all fours, unlike smaller birds. They propelled themselves into the air with the use of these muscles and then stayed airborne, reaching speeds over 100 kilometers per hour.

The Anatomy of Pterosaurs

While the physical characteristics of different animals of this kind varied, pterosaurs usually had long necks. Some of them had pelican-like pouches in their necks as well. Their skulls were long and their teeth were like sharp needles.

One of the most characteristic features of a Pterosaur’s anatomy was the crest on their head. However, there were many different kinds of crests amongst the different species. Some had bony crests that were big and strong while others had very fleshy ones. Some even had crests consisting of membranous structures. The purpose of these crests is still unknown, but scientists have proposed that they may have been used for regulating heat or to help with maneuvering during flight.


Pterosaurs were really interesting animals that went extinct along with the dinosaurs a long time ago. Learning about these animals, discovering new things about them is very important for our understanding of the word and the nature that existed before us. While we still don’t know everything there is to know about these magnificent animals, there is a lot being uncovered slowly but surely.

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