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Pteranodon (Teh-ran-oh-don), Wing Toothless, lived in the Late Cretaceous of North America around the western interior seaway that divided North America. They are the best known large pterosaurs in world; the first giant pterosaur known, the first pterosaurs found in US, and the first found outside Europe. Pteranodon was a close relatives of the nyctosaurs, one the two groups of pterosaurs that lasted until extinction at the end of the Mesozoic (Dixon, 2006).

Content List

1. Genera & species

2. Characteristics

a. Size

b. Behavior

3. History of Discovery

4. Paleoenvironment

5. References

Genera and Species

Classification: pterosauria monofenestra pterodactyloidean ornithocheiroidea pteranodontia

Species: P. longiceps, P. sternbergi,

Senior synonyms: Occidentalia, Geosternbergia, Longicepia, Dawndraco.


Pteranodon was known to have a large blade on its head. Fossils show that these crests were patterned. A minority, about one third of the fossils found, are 50% larger with bigger crests. These would have been the adult males. The crest differs by individual, age and gender. There are two accepted species; P. longiceps with a narrow crest projecting back that doubles the skull length and P. sternbergi with a spade-shaped crest projecting upward that was four times taller than the skull. Hollow bones were more wide-spread in Pteranodon than in earlier pterosaurs, giving them a more efficient avian-style lung system. Pteranodon had slender jaws that were extended by a beak that was weak and, for a pterodactylid, it had a short tail and four toes.



WEIGHT: 20 – 93 kg (44 - 205 lbs).


Pteranodons were oceanic soarers, using their long narrow wings for gliding by exploiting air currents, and rarely flapping. They were adapted for takeoff from water and on land shuffled or hopped around on four limbs. They ate small fish, snatching them from a floating position on the water surface or making shallow dives while floating (Witton, 2013).

History of Discovery

Discovery, 1871 Marsh, and known from many adult skeletons.


Found in North America in shallow seas with a rich fauna of fish sharks and marine reptiles.


1. Witton, M. (2013). Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy. Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

2. Dixon, D. (2006). The Complete Book of Dinosaurs. London UK: Hermes House.

3. Knol, R. (2010, February 5). Hanson Formation. Retrieved May 28, 2014, from