Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon: What’s the Difference?

Written by August Buck
Published: February 18, 2022
Image Credit Dariush M/Shutterstock.com
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There is still so much we don’t know about dinosaurs, including the differences between a Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon. These two creatures may belong to the same genus of dinosaur, but there are many differences between them. If you have always wanted to learn more about Pterodactyls and Pteranodons, you’re in the right place.

In this article, we will discuss these creatures in detail, including the ways in which they differ from one another. We will address the eras and periods in which they lived, as well as their preferred diet and appearances. Let’s get started now.

Comparing Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon

pterodactyl vs pteranodon
Pterodactyls have teeth, while Pteranodons don’t- their beak is more curved and resembles a beak closer to a modern-day pelican.

A-Z-Animals.com

PterodactylPteranodonGenusPterosaurPterosaurPeriod/Era AliveMesozoic; Jurassic periodMesozoic; Cretaceous periodAppearanceSmaller than Pteranodon and winged, but capable of walking on land. Soft head and many teethLarge and winged with no teeth and no tail; long pointed beak and large skull crests made of bone
DietSmall mammals and dinosaursFish, insects, mollusks, carcasses
Has Teeth?YesNo

The Main Differences Between Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon

What Do pterodactyls Eat
The Pterodactyl existed in the Jurassic period, while the Pteranodon existed in the Cretaceous period.

Ekaterina Glazkova/Shutterstock.com

There are many differences between a Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon. While they are both creatures from the Pterosaur genus, these two species existed during different eras. The Pterodactyl existed in the Jurassic period, while the Pteranodon existed in the Cretaceous period. Pteranodons are also much larger than Pterodactyls, and they do not have teeth compared to Pterodactyl teeth.

There are many more differences to discuss. Let’s get started and look at these differences in more detail.

Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon: Era and Period Alive

pterodactyl vs pteranodon
Pterodactyls differ from Pteranodons in that their heads were soft, while Pteranodons have hard heads with large crests atop them.

Catmando/Shutterstock.com

One of the key differences between Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon is the era they lived in and what period they existed in. While both creatures were alive throughout the Mesozoic era, they lived during different periods of this era. Based on our knowledge, it is unlikely that these two creatures existed during the same era. Let’s discuss this in more detail now.

Pterodactyls lived primarily during the latter end of the Jurassic period while Pteranodons lived toward the end of the Cretaceous period. While this may not mean very much at first glance, there are millions of years separating these two time periods, so it is unlikely that these two dinosaurs ever met!

Speaking of these two creatures never meeting, the location in which Pterodactyl and Pteranodon fossils have been found is also interesting. Pteranodon remains were first found in North America, specifically the Midwest, while Pterodactyl remains were first found in Germany. This gives us great insights into where these creatures may have lived so long ago. 

Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon: Appearance

Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon
While Pterodactyls remained a similar size regardless of their gender, Pteranodon males were much larger than females.

Dariush M/Shutterstock.com

Another difference between Pterodactyls vs Pteranodons is their appearance. While both creatures are members of the same genus, there are key physical differences between them, likely caused by centuries of evolution and adaptation. The primary physical difference between these two creatures is the presence of teeth, but we’ll talk more on that later.

Pterodactyls are much smaller than Pteranodons. They are both winged creatures, but Pterodactyls often walked on land with the help of their hands. Pterodactyls also differ from Pteranodons in that their heads were soft, while Pteranodons have hard heads with large crests atop them.

There are also size differences between the genders of each creature. While Pterodactyls remained a similar size regardless of their gender, Pteranodon males were much larger than females. Female Pteranodons had much wider hips compared to males, likely due to the fact that they laid eggs.

Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon: Presence of Teeth

While the answer may surprise you, a key difference between a Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon is whether or not they have teeth. These two creatures are separated by this fact. Pterodactyls have teeth, while Pteranodons don’t- their beak is more curved and resembles a beak closer to a modern-day pelican. 

Pterodactyls have narrow beaks and skulls with nearly 90 teeth, which is a key difference from Pteranodons. While these two flying dinosaurs may seem similar and belong to the same genus, they are separated by the presence of teeth alone.

Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon
Given the fact that Pteranodons do not have teeth, they likely were incapable of hunting and consuming live dinosaurs like Pterodactyls did.

YuRi Photolife/Shutterstock.com

Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon: Diet

A final difference between a Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon lies in their diet. Given the fact that Pterodactyls have teeth and Pteranodons don’t, this has clear and present effects on their diet. Let’s talk more about these differences now so that you can fully understand these two unique creatures.

Pterodactyls and pteranodons are both carnivorous creatures, but with a few key differences. For example, Pterodactyls ate small dinosaurs and other animals while they were alive, while Pteranodons preferred to eat fish as well as the carcasses of other dinosaurs. Given the fact that Pteranodons do not have teeth, they likely were incapable of hunting and consuming live dinosaurs like Pterodactyls did.

Pterodactyl vs Pteranodon

Dariush M/Shutterstock.com
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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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