Fielding A Question about Pterosaurs
Staff at Everything Dinosaur do their best to answer the many questions that they get sent. We try our best to reply to every single query, for example, the other day we were asked a question about flying reptiles, one particular Late Cretaceous flying reptile – Pteranodon and was it the biggest of its kind.
The genus Pteranodon contains a number of assigned species, the largest of which we believe is Pteranodon longiceps. This particular member of the pterosaurs had a wingspan in excess of 7 metres in length and perhaps weighed as much as 50 kilogrammes. It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of body size as the fossils of pterosaurs tend to be highly fragmentary and those that are discovered are often badly crushed. One of the hazards of having thin bone walls, and pneumatic bones (bones which are filled with air spaces).
A Picture of a Pteranodon
Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur
Scientists think that the largest of the pterosaurs did live at the very end of the Cretaceous Period, but they were not members of the Pteranodontidae but representatives of another type of flying reptile the Azhdarchidae. These pterosaurs were very widely distributed, fossil remains have been found in China, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Spain and Uzbekistan, as well as North America. Palaeontologists still debate which was the largest of these type of pterosaurs. Here again the fossil evidence is too fragmentary to provide firm conclusions but Quetzalcoatlus (Q. northropi) from Texas (United States) and Hatzegopteryx thambema known from fossils found in Transylvania, are believed to be amongst the largest. These two pterosaurs may have had wingspans in excess of 12 metres, much larger than any known member of the Pteranodontidae.