How big were pterodactyls?



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    There were 29 Pterodactyl species that ranged in size from a small bird up to about 20 feet long and 500 lbs.  Pterodactyls were not dinasours, but sometimes are confused as such.

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    Pterodactyl is a common name for Pterosaur, the group of flying lizards that existed 200-65 million years ago. Nemicolopterus crypticus, the remains of which were found in China in 2008, had a wingspan of 10 inches and is the smallest pterosaur on record. The largest is Quetzalcoatlus northropi with its estimated wingspan of 39 feet, discovered in 1971 and named after the Atzec god who resembled a feathered snake.

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    One interesting study was released a couple of years ago that claimed that pterodactyls were probably too heavy to fly.  Katsufumi Sato, a University of Tokyo professor, made the claim that the largest animal that would have been able to fly unaided couldn’t have been larger than around 88 pounds because they would not have been able to flap their wings fast enough to achieve lift and remain airborne.  Thus a pterodactyl, which is estimated to be around the size of a small airplane, would not have been able to fly, Sato claims.  His report has been disputed by a number of other scientists who feel that if a wingspan were wide enough, the weight would have been distributed enough to stay in the air.

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    Recently we’ve discovered that pterodactyls -or pterosaurs, as they’re more accurately called- were far more common and diverse than we originally thought. So far, we’ve discovered 60 genera and over 100 spceies, and they vary enormously in size. 

    So far the smallest one is Nemicolopterus, which lived in China about 120 million years ago and had a wingspan of only about 10 centimeters. 

    The largest pterosaur -in fact, the largest living creature to ever take to the skies, was Quetzalcoatlus, which was found in Texas and lived right up until the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago.  It had a wingspan of 15 meters.  How big is that? See for yourself!

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