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When is a Dinosaur Toy not a Dinosaur Toy?
- Gaynor Humphrey
The Pterodactyl belongs to the Pterosaur family and they are not dinosaurs!
There are quite a few pre-historic animals which are normally described by most people as dinosaurs but scientists know that they do not belong to Dinosauria, and therefore are not true dinosaurs.
These include pterosaurs which were flying reptiles, and ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs which both swam, although Ichthyosaurs were more like our modern dolphins while plesiosaurs had very long necks.
The Pterodactyl we have used as a model for our dinosaur toy belonged to the Pterosaur family and although they flew they were not actually related to birds in anyway. They didn’t have feathers; their wings were covered by a membrane instead and they had very lightweight bones which obviously helped flight. Their limbs and heads were rather large and in comparison their bodies were quite small
Pterosaurs and Dinosaurs lived at about the same time and were made extinct at the same time. Unlike Dinosaurs Pterosaurs were all carnivorous but like Dinosaurs they laid eggs rather than had babies. The main difference between Pterosaurs and Dinosaurs was not flight, as there were Dinosaurs which didn’t always live on the land, it was that Dinosaurs had an upright posture, their legs were erect beneath their bodies rather than sprawling out to the sides.
So the scientific answer to the question as to the difference between the two is a lot of slight but specific changes to the leg bones! However the more understandable answer I have been given about the differences between a dinosaur and a pterosaur was that if you think of yourself as a dinosaur, then a pterosaur is your grandmother’s sister. She’s a couple of generations back, and she’s not your direct ancestor, but you’re both in the same family, and come from a common family tree.
That’s said although Palaeontologists may disagree we will be calling our Pterodactyl a dinosaur toy. Its slightly inaccurate, but significantly easier to explain to a child!
Also arriving at the same time as the pterodactyl toy and rattle are the dodo toy and rattle. However hard we try we cannot make the Dodos in to proper dinosaurs but as they are as extinct as the dinosaurs we hope they don't mind if we put them altogether!