Pterosaur is Greek for “winged lizard”. This group of flying reptiles includes the largest vertebrate ever known to fly. Although pterosaurs were contemporaries of dinosaurs, pterosaurs are non-dinosaurian reptiles. The fascination with dinosaurs often overshadows the fact that the Mesozoic (the era in which the Cretaceous time period belongs) is really the “Age of Reptiles”. Other Mesozoic reptiles known to science include mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, phytosaurs, turtles, and crocodiles.
Identification Level: Order
Numerous types of pterosaurs lived around the globe during the Late Cretaceous Period. Paleontologists are eagerly searching for more fossils in order to further hone the specific identity of Denali’s pterosaurs.
What is for dinner?
Although they ruled the sky, pterosaurs likely hunted for their meals in the water. Pterosaurs in interior Alaska most likely ate fish and snapped them up in their beaks from river and lake waters.
How do we know I lived in Denali?
So far, Denali is the only place in Alaska where we have found evidence of pterosaurs. It has been deduced that one particular fossil track was created by an individual that likely weighed 35 pounds and had a 25-foot wingspan. When on the ground, pterosaurs walked on all fours, leaving distinctive three-digit hand prints.
Denali preserves the first evidence of pterosaurs in Alaska. These tracks extend the known northern range of pterosaurs by several degrees of latitude and several thousand kilometers.
Last updated: August 16, 2016