Pterodactyl Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Dina Albert
Did you know that the pterodactyl is actually not considered to be a dinosaur like the T-Rex? In this lesson we will learn how this animal got its name and what set this animal apart from the dinosaurs.

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.

An image of a pterodactyl

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.

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