A flock of Pteranodon above a school of plesiosaurs in the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway of North America

By Douglas Henderson; used with permission

Pterosaurs were the first major group of flying vertebrates. Their name translates as "winged lizards," but they were in fact very closely related to dinosaurs. The earliest known pterosaurs have been recovered from Triassic rocks (about 220 million years old) in Europe. During the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods, they reached high levels of diversity; their fossils have been discovered on every continent except Antarctica, and they grew to the size of airplanes. Pterosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period 65 million years ago, leaving no descendants. Visit the links below to find out more about them.

Author: John D. Orcutt

Last Updated: 11/2005

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Websites produced by students on the MSc Palaeobiology programme in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol for academic year 2005-6