Aerodactylus was a pterosaur that lived in what is now Germany, during the Late Jurassic Period, around 150 million years ago. It is only known from juvenile specimens with small, roughly one-and-a-half foot wingspans. Adults would probably have been a bit larger than this, perhaps possessing about three-foot wingspans. (This is purely based on estimates of adults of similar, more completely-known pterosaurs, like Pterodactylus. Adult Aerodactylus may have been different.) Aerodactylus was most likely a meat-eater when alive, using its jaws to snap up small prey. The genus name, Aerodactylus translates to "Air Finger" but there's more to it than that. It was really named after Aerodactyl, which is a pokemon...based on a pterosaur. So to sum that up for you pterosaurs inspired the creation of the fictional character, Aerodactyl, which in turn, inspired the name of the actual genus of pterosaur, Aerodactylus. I love it!
|Life reconstruction of Aerodactylus by Christopher DiPiazza.|
Aerodactylus, thanks to a few very well-preserved specimens, tells us that it would have had a crest on its skull in life, webbed toes, and a pouch under its throat. All of these characteristics, combined with the fact that it fossilized in what was a lagoon of some sort at the time of its death, support the idea that Aerodactylus was adapted for living and hunting near the water. Its long jaws, with pointed teeth concentrated towards the tips could have been for snapping up small fish or invertebrates in shallow water, and its webbed toes could have aided it if it waded or swam on the surface of deeper water.
That is all for this week! As always feel free to comment below or on our facebook page!
Vidovic, S. U.; Martill, D. M. (2014). "Pterodactylus scolopaciceps Meyer, 1860 (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea) from the Upper Jurassic of Bavaria, Germany: The Problem of Cryptic Pterosaur Taxa in Early Ontogeny". PLoS ONE 9 (10): e110646.