The Flying Dragons-Pterosaurs

Introduction Page 2

King Kong is perhaps Pteranodon's most famous movie credit. Pteranodon is one of the many members of the group termed Pterosaurs (To hear pronunciation choose: Mac/Win). Pterosaurs or more commonly known as "flying reptiles", were originally discovered in 1784 in Solnhofen, Germany, but it wasn't until George Cuvier examined the fossil in 1830 that it was recognized as a flying reptile. Cuvier's interpretation caused a sensation; Victorian society had always considered reptiles inferior: snakes slithered, and lizards crawled... while birds and bats flew free in the skies. But Cuvier's Pterodactylus (Mac/Win) (wing-finger) was a reptile and clearly had the ability to fly.

Over the years since the original discovery Pterosaurs have continued to astonish and amaze. In 1972, a Pterosaur with an estimated wing span of 12 meters was described, making it the largest animal ever to fly (it was found in Texas, where everything is said to be bigger). While Pterosaurs have been studied for more than 150 years, many fundamental problems remain unresolved. Where they successful fliers? Did they walk on two legs or four? Were they agile on the ground, In the air? Were they exothermic? What is their origin? And who wins Pteranodon or Kong?



© Patrick Lyons 1998.