A common sight during the Cretaceous period was the soaring through the air of a large fur-covered creature called the pterosaur. Pterosaur means flying lizard. Wings of some pterosaurs were longer than the wings of a small plane. This creature lived on cliffs at the edge of lagoons and would sail from its nest to catch prey. The bones of one pterosaur, Scaphognathus crassirostris, were discovered in 1826 by the German scientist, August Goldfuss. The fossilized bones were located in a limestone quarry and were unbroken. Scaphognathus crassirostris was approximately the size of a large bat with a broad jaw and short tail.
Students will reconstruct the skeleton of S. crassirostris and draw conclusions about its method of movement, feeding habits, and other adaptations.
Scissors, tape, construction paper, glue, metric ruler, pencil
Fossil Cast of S. crassirostris
- Use the drawings of S. crassirostris bones to cut out and reassemble a model of the flying reptile.
- Glue the model bones to a sheet of construction paper being sure to center the model and keep all bones on the paper.
- Use the metric ruler to measure the complete wingspan of the organism (tip to opposite tip).
- Complete the characteristics in data table 1.
Characteristics of S. crassirostris
|Teeth adapted for?|
|Arms & hands adapted for?|
|Number of bones in lower arm?|
|Number of bones making up skull?|
|Number of fingers?|
- The bones of the lower arm and lower leg are fused (joined together). How might this be an adaptation for flight?
- What would be the main function of the long bones of S. crassirostris little finger?
- Noting the shape of the teeth and where S. crassirostris lived, what did it probably eat?
- Name 3 characteristics that adapted S. crassirostris to flight.
- The bones of S. crassirostris were hollow. How was this an adaptation?
- The flap of skin that made up the wing of S. crassirostris was very delicate and could tear easily. How could this cause a problem with S. crassirostris competing with other gliding reptiles?