anonymous asked:

What is the difference between a Pteranodon and a Pterodactyl?

(Source) Drawn by the excellent Mark Witton.

Pteranodon was a genus of pterosaur that lived about 75 MA ago by the Western Interior Sea, in what is now central North America. It’s what most people think of when they hear “pterodactyl”. Males were bigger than humans, but probably weighed less. Females were much smaller, with much smaller crests. All were toothless.

(Source) Also by Mark Witton.

“Pterodactyl” can refer to Pterodactylus. Pterodactylus was much smaller (look!), and lived in what is now Germany, about 150 MA ago. It had a crest made of keratin, not bone, had teeth, and didn’t have any known sexual dimorphism.

“Pterodactyl” can also be used as a general term to refer to any pterodactyloid. Pterodactyloids are, basically, short-tailed pterosaurs.

Caulkicephalus trimicrodon, an ornithocheirid pterosaur from the Early Cretaceous (~130 mya) of the Isle of Wight, carrying around a flapling in a similar manner to modern crocodiles.

We still know very little about the life cycle and reproduction of pterosaurs. The few known fossilized eggs had leathery shells, and may have been left buried in sand or vegetation. Baby pterosaurs (“flaplings”) seem to have been superprecocial, highly developed and possibly even capable of flight very soon after hatching.

Whether any actual parental care took place is also a mystery. So this is a rather speculative idea – but still adorable.