Pteranodon Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

The only thing scarier than a six-foot long reptile is a six-foot long reptile that flys! Meet the pteranodon, a flying reptile that lived about 85 to 75 million years ago.

The Flying Pteranodon

The creatures that inhabited the Earth during the late Cretaceous period (85 to 75 million years ago) were much different than the creatures that live here today. The pteranodon, which is pronounced 'teh-RAN-uh-don' (the 'p' is not pronounced), was one of those creatures.

This painting of a pteranodon gives you an idea of what they looked like and of life 85-75 million years ago.
pteranodon

The pteranodon looked like a dinosaur and flew, like a bird, but it wasn't a dinosaur or a bird; it was a type of pterosaur (pronounced 'TER-uh-sawr'), which were flying reptiles.

What Did They Look Like?

Pteranodons were about six feet long from head to toe and weighed about 35 pounds. This weight was light for the size of the creature, thanks to the fact that the pteranodon's bones were hollow, much like a bird's bones. Pteranodons could stand on their feet, each of which had four toes.

The wingspan of the pteranodon was thought to be 25 to 33 feet across; that's about as long as a three-story building is tall. The wings didn't have feathers; instead, they were more like a leathery sheet made of skin and other body tissues. The wings were stretched up the sides of the reptile's body, from the top of its leg to the very long fourth finger on its hand.

A drawing of a pteranodon showing its long fourth finger
pteranodon

The most distinct feature on a pteranodon could be found on its head. It had a toothless beak, like most birds of today, and it also had a bony crest on top of its head. This crest gave the pteranodon a pointy head that made it look like it was wearing a funny hat. Scientists think the winged reptile may have used the crest to stabilize flight, kind of like a rudder helps to control a boat in the water.

Where Did They Live and What Did They Eat?

We know pteranodons lived in areas that are now the United States because scientists uncovered fossils, which are remains of their bones or other tissues, of pteranodons in parts of Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming and other states.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support