Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Most Horrid Mythical Creature: TERRORDACTILE

Since dinosaurs and certain other prehistoric creatures are so inspiring to humans, it should be no surprise that their images come up all the time in pop culture.  Movies, TV shows, video games, toys...the list goes on.  Sometimes the artists depicting the said dinosaur for some of these doesn't always know all the facts and what the final product ends up being is sometimes less than perfect.  Personally this doesn't really irk me as much as it does some other people.  Of course I care about science and all that but I'm not the snobby type to be a science perfectionist towards something like a science fiction movie! (I only get annoyed when places that claim to be science-based are not)

That being said it is still a lot of fun to point out some of the more extreme monstrosities! 

Pterosaurs have been popular in pop culture as long as humans have known about them.  I find it funny how so often they are portrayed usually even less accurately than dinosaurs.  Pterosaurs are known for being able to fly but beyond that (anatomy, physical ability) a lot of people don't know much about them.  For instance a pterosaur, even one of the largest ones (which were about the size of a small plane) couldn't lift something the size of a human.  They were too light and their feet couldn't grasp like an bird of prey's.


Oh and another thing.  Did you see the wings on that creature?  They look a lot like a bat's don't they?  Pterosaurs didn't have wings like that.  A bat's wing is basically just the animal's hand with elongated fingers which are webbed.  The fingers act like supports, somewhat like the metal rods on an umbrella, to give the wing shape and also to control when the wing opens, closes and how it flaps.

See?  The thumb is free and the other four fingers form the wing!  Bats are cool mammals.

Pterosaur wings are a little different.  A pterosaur's wing is supported by just one long finger.  There are three more but they are small, free, and probably were used for walking and/or climbing depending on the specific pterosaur.

Three free fingers and one finger supports the wing.

Sometimes pterosaurs are given teeth that they wouldn't have had in life.  Now keep in mind there were many pterosaurs out there that DID have teeth.  Big ones, too sometimes.  However, the most popular pterosaur in pop culture, called Pteranodon, did not.  Its name even means "toothless wing".

Pteranodon longiceps skeleton.  This is the species most people are familiar with but may not know the actual name of.

So instead of leaving Pteranodon the way it is (which is plenty cool) or just using a different kind of pterosaur that actually had teeth, movie makers, toy designers and other such artists sometimes instead decide to just give poor Petrie a big ol' set of pearly whites.

Pteranodon from the movie, Jurassic Park 3 with a set of sharp chompers.

Oh and you don't even want to KNOW some of the toys of pterosaurs that they have come up with...actually you totally do its hilarious and awesome.

I dunno...
Probably supposed to be Pteranodon but look at that long tail!
Another Pteranodon with teeth AND a long tail.
Pterosaurs with the wings of bats again.

Which brings us to these gems I picked up at a wildlife center gift store.  These toys have been around forever.  Foam plane-shaped toys with the plastic piece you stick on the front then toss and they glide.  They come as planes, birds and...horribly ugly pterosaurs.  There were four different ones.  Pteranodon at least had the head right.  Rhamphoryncus and Dimorphodon looked more or less the same from the outside packaging (both pretty wrong) and then we have Pterodactylus which looked like the artist just gave up and decided to draw a zombie dragon that would be more at home in the cover art of a metal album than in the Jurassic.

I bought these two because Dimorphodon is my favorite pterosaur and the Pterodactylus was just so strange-looking.  I actually want to go back and buy the other two and make a hanging mobile with them.

They do glide pretty well though.  My trusty Yorkshire Terrier monster-attack-beast, Zeus, and I took advantage of the sunny weather and decided to give them their first flight.  Zeus was not amused though. 

For more on Skeletal pterosaurs and dinosaurs check out my friend Marc's post on our friend-blog.  (is friend-blog a real phrase? well I just used it)  So all these ugly pterosaurs inspired me.  I got thinking what if they are just a modern kind of fantasy creature?  You know like the ones from ancient mythology that are made up of parts of different animals like the centaur, griffin or cockatrice?  Then I got my drawing pad out and speed-painted the modern monster.  Behold the TERRORDACTILE!

I also decided to give it sonic brain-scrambling screeching powers.  Deal with it.

This past week I have been going through a pterosaur phase if you hadn't noticed from this post and the latest prehistoric animal of the week.  It's mostly because I finally got around to buying paleongologist and friend of the site's, Mark Witton's new book which is appropriately named PTEROSAURS.  I haven't finished reading the whole thing yet but so far I like it and the illustrations are great too.  You can get one here.

That's all for today!  Tune in Sunday for another prehistoric animal of the week! 


  1. Now that I look at it again, the Pterodactylus glider actually has six limbs not including the wings giving it a total of eight limbs all together in case anybody cares.

  2. "Oh and you don't even want to KNOW some of the toys of pterosaurs that they have come up with...actually you totally do its hilarious and awesome."

    You forgot to mention this, which looks like a Pteranodon/Archaeopteryx hybrid (I had 1 as a kid):

    I also had this 1 as kid:

    "Foam plane-shaped toys with the plastic piece you stick on the front then toss and they glide."

    I used to get those for free after e/dental appointment.


    1. Ah yes I forgot about that feathered one! I had a few of those too! I know for a fact you can still buy them at dollar stores today.

  3. The reason why the wings in One Million Years BC look like bats wings was not a fault, but a decision for it to be animated easier. The single stretches of skin for the wings is a difficult task to animate for Stop Motion, there are only a few films that have chosen to do so, and they dont look clean. This way, although they look innaccurate, make the wings flap in a more natural fashion for entertainment. makes sense? Dont be so critical.

    1. Instances like you mentioned happen all the time especially with dinosaur movies, unfortunately. You can see it with modern depictions of naked dromaeosaurs because animators find CGI feathers too time-consuming to do especially when they have deadlines. I don't think anything I wrote was so critical of that movie though. (I love Ray Harryhousen's work really) I simply stated that real pterosaurs didn't look like that.