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LET'S EXPLORE Prehistoric life

When did pterosaurs rule the skies?

Pterosaurs flying over the seaPterosaurs flying over the seaPterosaurs were flying reptiles. They first took to the air in the Triassic Period and dominated the skies for the whole of the Age of Dinosaurs. Pterosaurs had wings made of flaps of skin that stretched between their extremely long fourth fingers to their feet or tails. Many pterosaurs had toothed beaks which they used for seizing fish. There were two main types: the long-tailed rhamphorhynchs and the short-tailed pterodactyls.



Rhamphorhynchus in flightRhamphorhynchus in flightRhamphorhynchus (pronounced RAM-foh-RIN-kuss) lived in the Late Jurassic Period. It had a small, furry body with a short neck and tiny legs. Its long, stiffened tail had a diamond-shaped piece on the end. Its long jaws were filled with sharp, forward-pointing teeth. When on land, it spent its time hanging from cliffs or branches. It used its claws to climb up and hang on.

Rhamphorhynchus catching a fishRhamphorhynchus catching a fishRhamphorhynchus's huge eyes enabled it to spot prey from high up. It then flew low, dragging its beak in the water. Its teeth snapped shut like a cage once it had grabbed a fish.


Pterosaurs are sometimes described as flying dinosaurs, but this is incorrect. Dinosaurs were a separate group of non-flying prehistoric reptiles.

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