next Name Meaning: Toothless Wing

more information Location Found: Kansas (Niobrara formation)é-ma-vie.html Geologic Era: Late Cretaceous

notre site Web Size: 6 meter wingspan (males); 3.5 meter wingspan (females)

Estimated Range: USA (possibly Japan)

Extinction: 84.5 million years ago

One of the most easily recognizable pterosaurs, Pteranodon is represented by a finger fragment and a scaled down, 3-D printed skull. The finger fragment is still partially embedded in matrix, and is very thin and delicate looking. Looking at the bone, it is almost hard to believe that something like that could have supported an animal as big as Pteranodon in flight or gliding.

The skull replica is a lovely example of what a 3-D printer is capable of. The replica is one piece and roughly 1/10 scale, but is very well done. One can easily see where Pteranodon got its name, as there are no teeth in the upper or lower jaws. The mouth, however, is pointed like a spear, and one could easily envision Pteranodon using it in that manner.

Pteranodon is found from Alabama to South Dakota, and is from a time when North America was split in two by the Western Interior Seaway. Based on how common Pteranodon remains are, it must have been one of the more populous animals in the coastal animal community. There were other pterosaurs in the Western Interior Seaway area, though Pteranodon appears to be by far the most common. The remains of male Pteranodon (characterized by larger size and longer crest) are far outnumbered by female Pteranodon. This could point to a social structure resembling polygamy, where one male would have a harem of multiple females. If this is the case, the crests on Pteranodon were probably brightly colored, with brighter colors meaning a more dominant animal.

Pteranodon was probably a primary, if not entirely, piscivore. It could have hunted either by skimming the water with its pointed beak, or by diving right in and catching fish underwater. Either method could have resulted in danger for the Pteranodon, as the Western Interior Seaway had more than its share of predators. Lurking under the water were large predatory fish, large sharks, mosasaurs, and plesiosaurs. Any of these predators were capable of dragging a Pteranodon under.

Image Credits:

Life Restoration:

Full Skeleton: By Matt Martyniuk – Own work, CC BY 3.0,