Characteristics of a Pterodactyl
The name pterodactyl comes from the Greek name 'Pterodaktulus' where 'ptero' means wing and 'daktulos' means finger. So the pterodactyl means 'winged finger' and that is because this animal had extra long fourth fingers that its wings stretched to. Pterodactyls had strong muscles and pushed off their feet into the sky when they wanted to fly. They flew by reaching very fast speeds (up to 67 miles an hour, like a fast car on the highway), but then they spent most of their time gliding through the sky. When they were not in the air, they walked on all fours (hands and feet) on the ground.
The pterodactyl was a reptile, but unlike snakes and lizards that are cold blooded, scientists believe pterodactyls to were warm blooded because they had fur that was almost like the hairs on your arm, and this meant they could make their own heat. They also varied in size, with wingspans ranging from 3.5 feet (about the size of a professional baseball bat) all the way up to 36 feet (about the size of a long bus). Most also had long pointy teeth, a long beak like a bird, a pouch on its neck like a pelican, and a long bone on top of its head to balance out the weight of its beak.
Habitat and Diet of a Pterodactyl
Pterodactyls (pterosaurs) lived around 145 million years ago. They were carnivores which means they ate meat, such as fish, eggs and crab. They usually lived near the sea (where they hunted their food), in trees and in caves.
But why is it not considered a dinosaur like those that roamed the ground in the Triassic period? The reason is that they flew, and the ability to fly is not something dinosaurs had. In addition, dinosaurs were reptiles and cold-blooded, and we already learned earlier in the lessons that pterodactyls are warm-blooded.
The name pterodactyl, from the Greek name Pterodaktulus, means 'winged finger' and that is just what this animal had - wings that connected to a long fourth finger on each hand. Pterodactyls are not considered part of the dinosaur family for two reasons: they could fly, and they were warm blooded (they could make their own heat). The pterodactyl lived 145 million years ago near the sea where they hunted fish and crab for food.
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