By: Staff

Updated on: 28/03/2022

Pteranodon is an extinct genus of pterosaurs that lived around 85-75 million years ago. Pteranodon species existed for over four million years. Even though Pteranodon is frequently associated with dinosaurs, it was a flying reptile. It is often mistaken as Pterodactyl.

Scientific Classification

Species:Pteranodon longiceps (Type Species) Pteranodon sternbergi

Quick Facts

Name Meaning:Winged and Toothless
Geological Time Period:Late Coniacian to early Campanian stages, Cretaceous period
Size:Length – 1.5 to 2 ft (from tip of the beak to tail) Height – 5 to 6 ft (tall at the hips)
Wingspan:25 to 33 ft wide
Weight:50 to 60 lbs
Range/Location:North America and Europe
Habitat:Coastal Environment
Diet:Carnivore or Piscivore
Birth Type (Reproduction):Eggs
Locomotion:Quadrupedal (arguably bipedal)

History and Discovery

Pteranodon Pictures

Pteranodon was the very first known pterosaur outside Europe. First fossil remains were found in the Late Cretaceous Smoky Hill Chalk deposits of Kansas, United States, by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1870. This genus is known from extremely well-represented fossil samples. As of now, more than 1000 skeletal remains have been unearthed. The fossil materials represent both male and female of various age groups and species. Fragmentary fossils assigned to this genus have also been found in Skåne, Sweden.

Physical Description

Pteranodon Dinosaur
Pteranodon Skeleton

Pteranodon had a giant pelican like appearance. Their wingspan was larger than any known bird species. One of its distinctive features was its cranial crest projecting upward and then turning backward from the skull. It is believed that the long, light-weight, bony crest helped in balancing their beak and jaws. Some researchers stated that it was probably something to do with sexual dimorphism or probably used in attracting mates during the breeding season. In fact, it has also been said that they worked as a stabilizer or rudder while flying. They had large brains and good eyesight. Pteranodon had no teeth on their beaks. Their upper beak, which was longer than the lower one, was curved upward. It had strong hind legs. Their wings were covered with a leatherlike tissue layer which stretched from the top of its legs to its fourth fingers. It had hollow bones and it also possessed a short tail. Their body was probably covered with fur.

Adaptation and Behavior

Pictures of Pteranodon
Pteranodon Skull

Researchers believe that they were primarily fish eater. The probably scooped out fish from the water by dipping their beaks into the water while in low flight and swallowed them whole. They also fed on mollusks, crabs and insects; and scavenged on the carcasses of dead animals. It is believed that they primarily dwelt on offshore rookeries, safe from land predators. Pteranodon was modern-day albatross like flyer. But, unlike the albatross, it occasionally required rapid burst of flapping. In fact, studies have shown that Pteranodon were capable of flapping flight to an extent, rejecting the initial suggestions that they could just glide. Like other pterosaurs species, they also took off from a quadrupedal position getting all of the energy generated by the forelimbs.

Interesting Facts

Pteranodon Images
  • Pteranodon longiceps probably shared their territory giant-crested pterosaur Nyctosaurus.
  • Pteranodon has features in documentary films, online games and toy-lines.

List of species and synonyms

Pterodactylus occidentalisReclassified as Pteranodon occidentalis
Pterodactylus ingensReclassified as Pteranodon ingens
Pterodactylus veloxNomen dubium
Ornithochirus umbrosusNomen dubium
Ornithochirus harpyiaNomen dubium
Pterodactylus umbrosusReclassification of Ornithochirus umbrosus
Pteranodon longicepsValid
Pteranodon ingensNomen dubium
Pteranodon occidentalisNomen dubium
Pteranodon veloxNomen dubium
Pteranodon gracilisReclassified as Nyctosaurus gracilis
Pteranodon comptusNomen dubium
Pteranodon nanusReclassified as Nyctosaurus nanus
Ornithocheirus umbrosusReclassified as Pteranodon umbrosus
Ornithocheirus harpyiaReclassified as Pteranodon harpyia
Pteranodon umbrosusNomen dubium
Ornithostoma ingensSynonym of Pteranodon ingens
Ornithostoma umbrosumSynonym of Pteranodon umbrosus
Pteranodon oregonensisReclassified as Bennettazhia oregonensis
Pteranodon sternbergiValid
Pteranodon marshiSynonym of Pteranodon longiceps
Pteranodon bonneriReclassified as Nyctosaurus bonneri
Pteranodon walkeriSynonym of Pteranodon longiceps
Pteranodon (Occidentalia) eatoniSynonym of Pteranodon sternbergi
Pteranodon eatoniSynonym of Pteranodon sternbergi
Pteranodon (Longicepia) longicps [sic]Synonym of Pteranodon longiceps
Pteranodon (Longicepia) marshiSynonym of Pteranodon longiceps
Pteranodon (Sternbergia) sternbergiReclassified as Pteranodon (Geosternbergia) sternbergi
Pteranodon (Sternbergia) walkeriReclassified as Pteranodon (Geosternbergia) walkeri
Pteranodon (Pteranodon) marshiSynonym of Pteranodon longiceps
Pteranodon (Occidentalia) occidentalisSynonym of Pteranodon occidentalis
Pteranodon (Longicepia) ingensSynonym of Pteranodon ingens
Pteranodon (Pteranodon) ingensSynonym of Pteranodon ingens
Pteranodon (Geosternbergia) walkeriSynonym of Pteranodon longiceps
Pteranodon (Geosternbergia) sternbergiSynonym of Pteranodon sternbergi
Pteranodon orientalisReclassified as Bogolubovia orientalis
Geosternbergia walkeriSynonym of Pteranodon sternbergi
Geosternbergia sternbergiSynonym of Pteranodon sternbergi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *