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Last of the Pterosaurs
Pterosaurs died out 65 million years ago, along with
the dinosaurs and many other animals. The long-tailed
pterosaurs all died out at the end of the Jurassic,
but the short-tailed pterosaurs, the pterodactyloids,
survived and went from strength to strength. After
the Jurassic came the Cretaceous Period. It was warmer
and sea levels rose to cover much of the land.
Continets slowly drifted across the globe, crashed
into each other and gradually formed huge moutain
ranges. The pterodactyloids made the most of these new
conditions. There were many different kinds of
pterodactyloids pterosaur, but they all had two things
in common-- short tails and long, narrow wings. From
far away, they must have looked like soaring seabirds
such as gulls and albatrosses. In fact, during he
Cretaceous Period, birds were becoming more common.
For a time, they shared the skies with the pterosaurs.
Pterodactyloids grew larger during the Cretaceous
Period. They also became better at flying and gliding.
To save energy, they glided huge distances without
flapping their wings. Warm air currents blowing up
hillsides and mountains carried some pterodactyls
along, just like hangliders today. Others glided over
the vast oceans and developed strange beaks for
feeding on plankton (minute sea creatures), fish or
seashore shellfish. These flying reptiles may have fed
and protected their young in the same way the seagulls
look after their chicks on cliff nests today. After
they hatched from their eggs, baby pterosaurs could
not fly because their heads were too big and their
wings were too small. So one or both parents probably
brought the young food and watched over them until
their wings were strong enough to fly and they were
old enough to fend for themselves. One of the last
pterosaurs was the spectacular Quetzalcoatlus, named
after the traditional Mexican feathered snake-god
Quetzalcoatl. This huge creature, its head longer then
a man, was probably as big as a flying animal which it
lived. Quetzalcoatlus was so big that it could not
have taken off without help from the winds whistling
through the mountains and canyons of Texas, USA. Once
in the air, it could glide on the air currents for a
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