According to National Geographic, the closest living relatives to the pterodactyl are the alligator and the bird. Reconstruction of the flying reptile’s brain, however, show that it was much more closely related to modern day birds than reptiles. In order to hunt its primary prey, fish, pterodactyls may have developed adaptations to make it more successful, including white fur (for camouflage), unhingeable lower jaws, and excellent eyesight, all similar to today’s pelicans. Interestingly, pterodactyls seem to have been much more efficient fliers than today’d birds, and scientists believe that they may have flown and walked in a fashion similar to bats, with all 4 limbs contributing to both activities.
Birds are the closest living relatives to pterodactyls. From fossils, scientists gathered that the pterodactyl’s brain was birdlike rather than reptilian. Like the brains of birds, pterodactyl’s brains had huge frontal lobes and very large optic lobes. The majority of Cretaceous Period pterodactyls had large crests. Today, a number of birds have crests on their heads. Hornbills, toucans, and touracos are some examples.
Giant Cretaceous pterodactyls belonging to the Pteranodon family had heads that were shaped like modern pelicans and pelican-like expandable lower jaws. Like pelicans, they used the plunge-diving technique to catch prey in the water.
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