The Pterodactyloids-Page 1



During the Late Jurassic new types of Pterosaur appeared in the skies. These Pterosaurs were remarkably different from the Rhamphorhynchoids; they had a reduced tail, numerous skeletal modifications, and a larger brain. The Pterodactyloids (To hear pronunciation choose: Mac/Win) competed in many of the same ecological niches as the Rhamphorhynchoids and eventually displaced them.

To compensate for the reduction of the tail (and correspondingly loss of stability and maneuverability), Pterodactyloids evolved a larger brain to deal with the more complicated task of steering with the head and wings.

The skull remained large and still accounted for a large percentage of the total body size. The neck became longer, but the number of vertebrae remained the same (7). The skull retains the same number of openings as the Rhamphorhynchoids, but in many cases the nostril opening is incorporated into the eye socket. The jaws of Pterodactyloids are more variable and teeth have become more specialized if present.



© Patrick Lyons 1998.