Pteranodon is a large pteranodontid pterosaurs native to much of the North American Midwest during the late Cretaceous period, 88 to 80.5 million years ago. At the time, this area was a large shallow ocean called the Western Interior Seaway. They are among the largest known pterosaurs, and are notable for their extremely distinct sexual dimorphism.
The first remains were found in the Smoky Hills Chalk of western Kansas by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1870, and named by Marsh in 1871. It was the first pterosaur to be discovered outside of Europe by paleontologists, and was originally named Pterodactylus oweni. However, that species name was already occupied (though it has since been reclassified), so Marsh renamed his discovery Pterodactylus occidentalis. He also named the largest specimen Pterodactylus ingens, and the smallest specimen Pterodactylus velox. The remains consisted mostly of wing bones.
Around the same time, Marsh’s rival Edward Drinker Cope discovered wing bone fossils which he assigned to the genus Ornithocheirus (though he misspelled the name as Ornithochirus). He named two species, Ornithochirus umbrosus and Ornithochirus harpyia. The paper naming these species was published in 1872, only five days after Marsh’s. As the rivals recognized that the fossils they had named belonged to the same species, debate occurred over which name should be given priority. In 1875, Cope relented and allowed Marsh’s classification to take priority, but maintained that the umbrosus species was distinct from Marsh’s other species of Pterodactylus. Later paleontologists would disagree with Cope’s conclusion, determining that P. umbrosus was not a distinct species.
On May 2, 1876, Samuel Wendell Williston discovered the first-known skull of the animal near the Smoky Hill River in Kansas. Shortly after, a smaller skull was also discovered. Williston alerted Marsh, his employer, to the discovery; Marsh noted that the skull lacked teeth and possessed a bony crest on the head. These features were distinctly different from other known pterosaurs at the time, prompting Marsh to reclassify the animal. No longer a member of Pterodactylus, the genus was christened Pteranodon, meaning “wing without teeth.” The species recognized at the time included Pteranodon occidentalis and Pteranodon ingens, along with the newly-named Pteranodon longiceps; the specific epithet of this new species refers to the length of its skull.
Three other species Marsh named at the time included Pteranodon comptus, Pteranodon nanus, and Pteranodon gracilis. The final of those three was named based on a wing bone which he had mistaken for a pelvic bone. He recognized his mistake, however, and reclassified it as Nyctosaurus gracilis.
Samuel Williston would return to question the classification of all Pteranodon genera beginning in 1892. He had learned of toothless pterosaur jaws discovered in England’s Cambridge Greensand which were assigned to the genus Ornithostoma, and suggested that Pteranodon should also be given this name as it was discovered later. This decision was never formally accepted, however. In the end, the two names were recognized as separate genera, and neither incorporated the other. At one point, Williston believed that there could be seven Pteranodon species; as of 1903, he narrowed this down to just three species. These were the small P. velox, medium-sized P. occidentalis, and large P. ingens. Both P. comptus and P. nanus were reclassified as Nyctosaurus, and Williston considered P. longiceps to potentially be the same species as either P. velox or P. occidentalis.
In 1910, the classification of Pteranodon species would be challenged yet again. George Francis Eaton was the first scientist to describe the whole skeleton of the animal, using this information to determine that Pteranodon longiceps was a valid species and Pteranodon velox was not. This three-species conclusion was upheld for decades.
The discovery of a new species by George F. Sternberg in 1952, named Pteranodon sternbergi later in 1966 complicated the situation, as it was found to have a prominent upright crest. As many of the skeletons were headless, paleontologist Halsey Wilkinson Miller argued in 1972 that only the fossils that had known skulls (Pteranodon longiceps and Pteranodon sternbergi) should be considered valid species. Eaton and Miller would go on to name several other species, assigning them into three subgenera. First, the long-crested species P. longiceps and P. ingens, which was renamed as P. marshi, were classified in the Pteranodon subgenus. Second, the tall-crested species P. sternbergi and the newly-named P. walkeri were classified in the subgenus Geosternbergia. Third, P. occidentalis was renamed as P. eatoni and classified in the subgenus Occidentalia.
Today, the only recognized genus is Pteranodon longiceps. In 2010, Alexander W.A. Kellner reclassified P. sternbergi as Geosternbergia sternbergi, and also named a new species Geosternbergia maiseyi. Paleontologist S. Christopher Bennett has suggested that Geosternbergia, which existed slightly earlier in time, evolved directly into Pteranodon.
Throughout the history of paleontology, around 1,200 Pteranodon fossils have been discovered in Kansas, Alabama, Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota. This makes it more common than any other known pterosaur in the fossil record. Some possible Pteranodon remains are known from Skåne, Sweden and from the East Coast of North America.
Sometime between 1986 and 1993, International Genetic Technologies succeeded in cloning Pteranodon from ancient DNA found in Cretaceous amber samples. There are three varieties of this pterosaur, two of which have been observed directly.
Pteranodon is a member of the family Pteranodontidae, which itself is a part of the pterosaur suborder Pterodactyloidea. This means that they are among the short-tailed pterosaurs. The beak is quite long and has a pointed tip. At least one variant is said to be toothed; these are an aberrant feature, and are presumed to be the result of genetic engineering (intentional or accidental). The head crest is roughly triangular and points backward from the skull; the female’s crest is much smaller. The tongue is narrow and pointed, and does not appear able to extend out of the beak. Its nostrils are located near the base of the beak, on the upper side.
The neck is long and somewhat flexible. Much of its size consists of the wings; it is among the largest of all flying animals. Fossil P. longiceps have wingspans of up to 20.5 feet (6.25 meters) in males and 12 feet (3.8 meters) in females; InGen specimens grow larger than this, with specimens bred for Jurassic Park reaching wingspans of 23 feet (7.01 meters) and the males of those bred for Jurassic World reaching an incredible 26 to 33 feet (7.9 to 10.1 meters); females of this variety are still smaller, with 18- to 24.6-foot wingspans (5.5 to 7.5 meters). Males of Jurassic World’s artificially-evolved variety weigh 55 pounds (24.95 kilograms).
The wings of Pteranodon are formed from the arm bones, as with all pterosaurs. The majority of the wing membrane, called the brachiopatagium, stretches from the tip of the fourth finger to the hips. In addition, it has a smaller membrane called a propatagium which stretches between the shoulder and the elbow. There are three exposed fingers, as well as the fourth one that supports the wing. The membrane is muscular in order to allow the animal to achieve powered flight. The tail is short and stiff, and reaches up to 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) long. Wing morphology differs between InGen’s pterosaurs and their fossil counterparts; the wings of fossil pterosaurs have rounded tips, while InGen’s have narrow, pointed wingtips. Overall, InGen’s pterosaurs have less membrane surface area than the extinct versions, which may increase the effort required to remain airborne.
The legs and feet are substantially different than those of fossil pterosaurs, having very bird-like anatomy that permits them to grasp. The legs are very muscular, and the feet have four toes; one of these resembles a thumb. When walking, they use a quadruped gait, with the wing finger held upward. Flight in fossil pterosaurs was achieved by pushing off with the wings from a quadrupedal position; InGen’s pterosaurs use a variety of other methods to achieve flight, such as standing on two legs and jumping while forcefully flapping the wings, or standing into the wind and spreading the wings wide. Why they opt to use these more energy-consuming methods is unknown, but may be a result of their altered leg and wing anatomy. According to the mobile application Jurassic World Facts, the flight speed of a Pteranodon is twenty-five to thirty miles per hour. This same application describes their flight pattern as similar to the modern albatross. Rapid flapping is difficult for an animal this size, so it typically glides and soars.
Coloration is typically brown or dun, with a countershaded underbelly. Pteranodons bred for Jurassic World may have brown backs and tan wings, while the beak is pale yellow and the head and crest are light red or pinkish. Others are variable gray in color, with a redder crest and red tints to the wings; in this variety, the beak may be gray-tipped. In all varieties, the eyes are small with round pupils and orange sclerae.
Pteranodon is able to fly shortly after it hatches, and has proportions similar to the adult. The chief difference between adults and juveniles is the size of the crest; upon hatching, the crest is much smaller, and it grows to the adult size and shape during adolescence.
Experiments with artificial evolution were first performed on Pteranodon in the late 1990s. The originally brown animals became redder with each successive generation until, in the fourth generation, they achieved a bright red-orange hue. The wings became striped, with pinkish and white streaks near the body. Banding also occurred on the crest, alternating between light and dark orange. The animal’s overall strength increased during the experiment.
Jurassic World saw a more advanced version of this research, as Dr. Henry Wu was able to utilize new technologies and scientific information to improve artificial evolution. The result still yielded increased physical strength, which allows it to target larger prey. The red color of the crest became increasingly vibrant, as did the yellow of the beak. The body’s color became light blue on the back with lavender wings, which are decorated with blue striping. As the experiment progressed, the color deepened, becoming darker and very vibrant; the wings changed from lavender to purple to almost red, though they become lighter in color toward the tips. The underbelly is a lighter purplish color. In the final stages of the experiment, the crest increased dramatically in size, easily tripling in length and developing a slight bulge on the front side. The rear of the crest developed a waved shape with a keel on the upper point. Color of the crest was still bright red, but a yellow streak developed on either side, and the keel showed a slight violet color. Some hybridization with other organisms, which are not yet identified, may have played a role in the artificial evolution. Overall, the changes to Pteranodon show an evolutionary preference for display structures.
Jurassic Park: Builder
Creation Cost: 45 Cash
Profit (Max Level): 8,100/1hr
Health (Max Level): 2,700
Attack (Max Level): 279-1,677
Ferocity (Max Level): 324
Jurassic World: The Game
DNA Cost: 2,910
Profit (Max Level): 53,638/3hr
Health (Max Level): 1,520
Attack (Max Level): 581
Jurassic World Alive
Health (At Creation): 1443
Attack (At Creation): 433
Critical Chance: 5%
Pteranodon lives near coastlines of oceans and other large bodies of water. It prefers to roost near cliffsides. Living in such areas provides them with two main benefits; first, they are in proximity to their preferred food sources, and second, updrafts are common in these areas and this helps the animal remain aloft when it flies. Living near a seaside cliff could also help a Pteranodon avoid danger, since land-based predators could only approach from one side and the cliff would provide the pterosaur with an easy escape route. They prefer open areas with fewer trees, but are territorial and generally remain within a single area.
This animal was bred on Isla Nublar, and historically lived on Isla Sorna as well. Since the events of 2018, it has become widespread the world over, tolerating a variety of climates; however, it is not very common and avoids human contact.
Pteranodon is a carnivore, and its preferred food is fish. It is known to prey on Bananogmius. This pterosaur hunts mainly on the ocean, diving low over the water to catch fish that swim close to the surface in its beak. At least one variety possesses teeth, which likely help it grip food; however, most Pteranodons are naturally toothless like their fossil ancestors. In addition to fish, Pteranodon will prey on other small animals; when genetically enhanced, it is capable of not only attacking, but killing and eating human-sized creatures. It has been known to prey on humans. The sharp beak of this creature assists it in attacks, as do the claws of its feet. When eating, Pteranodon gulps down whole chunks, since it cannot chew. It may bite off parts of a larger food item to make swallowing easier.
In captivity, it will eat prepared fish.
This is a gregarious pterosaur and commonly lives in large groups. Flocks of several animals are often seen traveling and hunting together. They communicate using squawks and screeches, as well as body language. Pteranodon can be seen perching on raised surfaces where it has a better view of its surroundings, and will maintain its perch to itself; it may warn away its fellows if they approach too closely.
Like all pterosaurs, Pteranodon lays eggs, which incubate in small ground nests. Its eggs need not be incubated, so long as they are in a tropical environment. The young are capable of flight very soon after hatching, with their wings fully developed already. Hand-rearing of Pteranodon from the egg to adulthood has been successful, though it can fend for itself fairly early on.
One of the largest pterosaurs, Pteranodon is a formidable territorial hunter that controls coastal cliffs and other aquatic environments. It mainly preys on fish, both modern fish such as salmon and tuna as well as de-extinct fish such as Bananogmius. They are fiercely defensive of their territories and can defend against many foes, performing aerial attacks and making aggressive displays to drive away rivals. Since they are very social, numerous Pteranodons may defend the same territory. It is often seen circling an area on updrafts and rising warm air, keeping a lookout for prey and threats.
Relationship to Humans
This creature can be kept in captivity, though it is one of the more difficult pterosaurs. Its aggressive nature means that it can threaten humans if approached, and it sometimes uses its beak to try and break through aviary walls. In Jurassic Park, it was available fairly early on in a park manager’s career but could only be purchased for cash. Though it can be created through normal means in Jurassic World today, it is no longer available to early-career managers and can only be cloned later on. Still, it is a popular pterosaur due to its fame and the large amount of scientific knowledge available on it, so it is featured in most parks. While Jurassic Park kept these animals free-flying and trusted their territorial instincts to keep them in one place, Jurassic World takes fewer chances, maintaining them in aviaries. The Pteranodon genome has been sourced to create at least two hybrid genera, Zalmonodon and Pteraquetzal. It was also used as the basis for the Phoenix 44 and Valkyrie 77 defense projects.
Although it is aggressive and known to view humans as potential prey, Pteranodon is not impossible to get along with. In Jurassic World, it may allow a trainer it trusts to stroke its neck and shoulders. It has been kept in Dinosaur Protection Group sanctuaries, where it is given food and stimulation in the form of toys that allow it to exercise its hunting behaviors. Since it is not commonly found in inhabited areas, attacks on humans in the modern day are thankfully rare.
As one of the species originally bred for Jurassic Park, Pteranodon was of concern to Dr. Henry Wu during 2015’s Project Ares. Older Pteranodons were used as surrogate parents for the new generation, and some of them inherited harmful DNA inclusions from mosquitoes that shortened their lifespans and caused other health issues. Specimens carrying these genes were identified, classified as Legacy assets, and treated to sterilization, ending their bloodlines.
This lightweight but powerful creature was one of the first animals of the Silver class available to animal trainers in Jurassic Park. It was trained to use its flight capabilities to overpower weaker creatures, particularly those vulnerable to swiping attacks; Pteranodon could deliver glancing blows with its claws while swooping past an enemy. It could also bite and peck at its foes using its sharp beak, which was just as efficient a weapon as it was a feeding implement. By combining its aerial agility with its beak’s pointed tip, the Pteranodon could utilize an extremely effective diving attack to stab enemies from above. However, its fragile frame was found to be vulnerable to swiping attacks, though it was efficient at avoiding damage from biting attacks.
Since Pteranodon was not available through normal means, only some trainers made use of it in the battle arena. Those that did found it to be an invaluable addition to their teams; it was among the first pterosaurs to be used for this purpose and was fiercer than the other animals available to managers early in their careers. Still, it was not the most powerful of all creatures, and would eventually be surpassed by stronger animals yet.
Pteranodon is now a regular asset in InGen’s genetic library, though it is not available to managers until partway through their careers. Now, Pteranodon has genetic enhancements that make it an even stronger fighter, capable of taking down even larger foes. Its health and strength are respectable, especially for an animal available at that point, so when it is obtained it quickly becomes an invaluable addition to the battle arena. It is adapted for aquatic hunting, making it an excellent choice against amphibious enemies. It chiefly attacks using its beak to stab, but can also strike with its wings to clap around an enemy’s head, or rake the bodies of its foes using its talons.
It is classified as a Legendary creature based on its overall statistics and availability, and is one of the first animals in this rarity bracket available to park managers. Pteranodon is strong, but is still surpassed by other creatures; nonetheless, it is among the most powerful of pterosaurs, and may be useful even to late-career trainers.
Dinosaur Protection Group
Much like in Jurassic World, the Dinosaur Protection Group classifies Pteranodon as a Legendary creature. It is still among the strongest of pterosaurs, using its claws and sharp beak to deliver powerful attacks. The beak can penetrate even a stalwart defense, making Pteranodon efficient against armored creatures. When attacked, it strikes back readily; it is also known for its aggressive instincts, and is at its most ferocious when it first swoops into battle. It is a crafty fighter and can quickly recover from injuries that leave it vulnerable. This pterosaur attacks confidently to remain dominant in combat, but when its injuries are too great, it may make a quick but strong attack before fleeing to let its allies take its place. It is swift in the air and can move in and out of the battlefield very quickly.