Pteranodon sternbergi

Meaning of name: Winged and toothless

Click here to view larger image. Image depicts Pteranodon longiceps, a close relative of Pteranodon sternbergi.
Click here to view larger image.  
Pteranodon was a carnivore.
WINGSPAN: 3 metres Pteranodon compared to a woman.
Pteranodon lived 90–70 million years ago, Cretaceous Click to view animal family tree Click to view animal family tree

Pteranodon sternbergi — the flying fish eater

These large pterosaurs had a short tail, a long neck and skull, and a small body that palaeontologists think was partly covered with hair. Palaeontologists think that they mainly ate fish, although it is not clear how they caught them. Pteranodon fossils have been found in areas that would once have been wetlands and coastal lagoons, several with fossilised fish in their stomachs. Pteranodon had good balance and eyesight. It could probably swim, and would have made ‘belly landings’ on the water, holding its wings high to avoid damage.

A striking feature of this species was its large skull with a bony crest. The purpose of this crest is unknown, as aeronautical engineers have rejected the previous theories that it was a rudder or an air brake. The crest seems to have developed with maturity and was larger in males than females, which indicates it may have featured in mating displays. The Pteranodon on display at Melbourne Museum is a female specimen, demonstrating the smaller bony head crest than that of the male of this species.

WHERE IT WAS FOUND The fossils of Pteranodon were discovered in the USA.


Carnivorous flying reptiles with skin-covered wings.