The pterosaurs are the flying reptiles so often mistakenly called flying dinosaurs or pterodactyls. These animals flew above the heads of dinosaurs, their close relatives, from at least 230 million years ago until they all became extinct 65 million years ago.
Pterosaurs’ bones were far more fragile than those of their terrestrial cousins and thus are rarer. Even so, we have a remarkable diversity of pterosaur fossils, from sparrow-sized babies who could already fly to giants with wingspans of nearly 33 feet who dwarf the largest-ever flying birds. Exceptional fossils preserve wings, skin, beaks, claws, and even muscles of these incredible animals who were flying some 60 million years before birds appeared.
Paleontologist David Hone dives into what we know about these fascinating flying reptiles and what we still have to discover.