Temporal range: Upper Jurassic
Pterodactylus (Pterodactylus Antiquus) was a small pterosaur. It lived in the later Jurassic period, at the same time as many dinosaurs. Pterodactylus is typical of the short-tailed pterosaurs. The sub-order continued to the end of the Cretaceous, but Pterodactylus is only known from the latest Jurassic. The first specimens were found at Solnhofen in Bavaria, Germany. Also found in these strata was the famous Archaeopteryx.
These carbonate strata formed in warm lagoons. Pterodactylus may have lived on small islands in the lagoon, or on the coast. Perhaps it lived further inland and was blown here in a storm. The high salinity would support little life, so the pterosaurs would have fed in some other area.
The first specimen was found in the 18th century, and a description published in 1784. Later, Georges Cuvier worked out that it was a flying reptile. A juvenile pterosaur came to light in 1817, and showed clearly that Cuvier had been right. Now, 30 specimens of the genus are known.