pteranodon


pteranodon
/teuh ran"euh don'/, n.
a flying reptile of the extinct order Pterosauria, from the Cretaceous Period, having a wingspread of about 25 feet (8 m).
[ < NL, equiv. to pter- PTER- + Gk anódon toothless (see AN-1, -ODONT)]

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Genus of extinct flying reptiles, descendants of the pterodactyl.

Fossils are known from Late Cretaceous (99–65 million years ago) deposits of Europe, Asia, and North America. Pteranodon had a wingspan of 23 ft (7 m) or more. The largest specimen had a wingspan of 50 ft (15.5 m). The body was about the size of a modern turkey. Pteranodon had a crest at the back of the skull and long, pelicanlike, toothless jaws. They probably made nests and spent much time gliding over the ocean searching for fish. They probably depended on air currents for liftoff rather than on flapping their wings.

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 flying reptile ( pterosaur) found as fossils in North American deposits dating from about 90 million to 100 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period. Pteranodon had a wingspan of 7 metres (23 feet) or more, and its toothless jaws were very long and pelican-like.

      A crest at the back of the skull (a common feature among pterosaurs) may have functioned in species recognition; the crest of males was larger. The crest is often thought to have counterbalanced the jaws or have been necessary for steering in flight, but several pterosaurs had no crests at all. As compared with the size of the wings, the body was small (about as large as a turkey), but the hind limbs were relatively large compared with the torso. Although the limbs appear robust, the bones were completely hollow, and their walls were no thicker than about one millimetre. The shape of the bones, however, made them resistant to the aerodynamic forces of flight. Pteranodon, like other pterosaurs, was a strong flier with a large breastbone, reinforced shoulder girdles, and muscular attachments on the arm bones—all evidence of power and maneuverability. However, as in the largest present-day birds, Pteranodon's large size precluded sustained beating of the wings, so it most likely soared more than it flapped. The eyes were relatively large, and the animal may have relied heavily upon sight as it searched for food above the sea.

 Fossils of Pteranodon and related forms are found in Europe, South America, and Asia in rocks formed from substances found in marine environments, which supports the inference of a pelican-like lifestyle. It is probable that Pteranodon took off from the water by facing into sea breezes that provided enough force to lift the reptile into the air when the wings were spread. (See also pterodactyl.)
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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