Everything you wanted to know about pterosaurs

January 14, 2010 • 12:55 pm

by Matthew Cobb

A bunch of people who study pterosaurs (the flying reptiles that lived at the same time as the dinosaurs but were NOT dinosaurs) have just launched an excellent website, Pterosaur.net. As they explain:

“a collection of pterosaur researchers and artists directly working with us, realised that there was no comprehensive, high quality website dedicated to this popular group of prehistoric animals. This acts in stark contrast to a number of excellent dinosaur-based websites and, frankly, we couldn’t quite figure out why when pterosaurs are just as famous and popular as their dinosaur cousins. With this in mind, we set out to create a pterosaur based website that

  • Presents up-to-date information on pterosaurs in an accessible fashion
  • Sources information from the primary scientific literature
  • Is written by qualified, experienced pterosaur researchers
  • Can reflect the active research occuring in pterosaur science
  • Provides professionally produced pterosaur art and photographs of pterosaur specimens

The result is that all too rare thing on the web – a detailed, accurate account that you can have absolute confidence in. They also have an excellent section dealing with pterosaurs in popular culture, although sadly it doesn’t have a link to the hilarious Objective Ministries site, which, as Dr Richard Paley describes, is looking for funding in their project of finding living pterosaurs:

The goal of Project Pterosaur is to mount an expedition to locate and bring back to the United States living specimens of pterosaurs or their fertile eggs, which will be displayed in a Pterosaur Rookery that will be the center piece of the planned Fellowship Creation Science Museum and Research Institute (FCSMRI). Furthermore, the rookery facility will establish abreeding colony of pterosaurs in order to produce specimens that could then be put on display by other regional institutions or church groups.

(Before steam comes out of your ears – go visit the site!)

19 thoughts on “Everything you wanted to know about pterosaurs

  1. Glen, if you read the site, you’ll see that there’s another animal already at Mt Ararat, which they would like to use for their project, but can’t for obvious health and safety reasons:

    “Velociraptors: Today terrorize the goat herders of Puerto Rico and are rumored to guard the remains of the Ark on Mt. Ararat. They have become vicious since the Fall as the result of the effects of genetic entropy, making them too dangerous for the sort of interactive public experience we have in mind.”

    They also have a useful map showing the migration patterns of pterosaurs from the Ark down into Africa…

  2. From their website — the project chronological timeline…

    “By the Grace of the Lord, if all goes according to plan, we should have completed Phase III before this decade is out.”

    My how time flies. heh, heh, heh…

  3. So Paley wants a free trip to Africa, paid for by his faithful, I guess. Otherwise, I’m nearly speechless.

    Under the Expedition Team, I started to get worried that there actually IS a Kreationwissenschaftmuseum Wien, but far as I can tell this is just a further delusion/devious lie. Their Baraminologist (he from the fantasy museum) seems also to be in that same category, altho there is some trace of a Gustav Vogl (ha ha, I get it, too) as one of those mountain-jumping “birdmen”
    featured recently in the media (was it 60Min?)

    1. That is part of the art/deranged nature of the Ministries site – lots of its links are to genuine YEC and fundamentalist sites. But I think it is clear that this is a deliberate spoof, and not simply a load of nuts. Whether it’s funny or not is another issue (see Marilyn’s comment below). Personally, I think it’s a hoot.

      1. Thanx, I was beginning to suspect that since there weren’t any links to pages to make contributions. But the linx to the genuine sites can surely keep one suspecting it’s a real creationary site.

  4. Apatosaurs: Still live in the jungles of the Congo. They are too large for our planned facilities (and especially for those of the church groups who would wish to borrow them) and breeding would be difficult given their presumably longer life cycle.
    Plesiosaurs: Are reported living in many lakes and their carcasses have been found in the oceans by fishermen. However, they are notoriously difficult to find alive and would require a large and expensive aquatic facility to display them.
    Trilobites: We know they still live in the oceanic depths from body parts that have been found washed ashore. They would require very expensive submersible vehicles and pressurized display tanks.
    Velociraptors: Today terrorize the goat herders of Puerto Rico and are rumored to guard the remains of the Ark on Mt. Ararat. They have become vicious since the Fall as the result of the effects of genetic entropy, making them too dangerous for the sort of interactive public experience we have in mind.

    1. The point of the post was to draw attention to pterosaur.net, but I seem to have distracted everyone with Project Pterosaur silliness. My apologies. Here’s a quote from pterosaur.net that answers your question:

      Pterosaurs are sometimes described in the media as ‘flying dinosaurs’. In fact pterosaurs are not part of the group formally termed Dinosauria, although the presence of various morphological characters which are shared by both groups suggest that they are close relatives. The shared presence of a relatively long neck with proportionally long cervical vertebrae, of an elongate tibia, and of a hinge-like ankle joint and elongate metatarsals in the foot indicate that pterosaurs, dinosaurs and a few other groups should be united in a clade which has been termed Ornithodira. It is inferred from this distribution of features that pterosaurs and dinosaurs shared an ancestor that was alive during the middle Triassic.

      However, it has been argued on several occasions that pterosaurs are not close to dinosaurs, but instead are part of an altogether different reptile group called the Protorosauria (the only well known member of this group is the bizarre long-necked marine form Tanystropheus). Whether pterosaurs are closer to dinosaurs or protorosaurs remains the source of argument, but at the moment the evidence for an affinity with dinosaurs seems better supported. It’s perhaps worth noting that one palaeontologist (Robert Bakker) argued on one occasion (in his 1986 book Dinosaur Heresies) that pterosaurs are, in fact, part of Dinosauria. However, this is because he used a more inclusive version of Dinosauria than that currently favoured by other palaeontologists: his concept of Dinosauria was essentially synonymous with Ornithodira.”


  5. I don’t get it… even if they find pterosaurs (or indeed velociraptors), how will that prove evolution wrong?

    Incidentally… I want a pet pterosaur! That would be soooo cool!

      1. How? I’m serious, even by the twisted internal logic of the… internal logic of the… logic…

        Oh wait. Now I get it.

    1. Apparently finding the Pterosaurs alive today ‘proves’ that God created dinosaurs at the same time as man (on the fifth day – referred to as a flying serpentine creature in the bible)- these theorists believe that man and dinosaurs lived side by side!

      According to the creationists, dinosaur and Pterosaur time-lines were faked by evolutionists in order to disprove the existence of God and ultimately the legitimacy of the bible.

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