Darwinopterus lived in China during the Jurassic Period, 161 million years ago. From this pterosaur, we’ve learned a lot about evolution and biology.

Fun Facts

  • Darwinopterus was a meat eater. Its small, sharp teeth suggest it ate insects, lizards, and small mammals.
  • Darwinopterus probably lived in forests, flying between the trees in search of food.
  • 10 fossils have been found of this animal. Scientists noticed that some of the fossils had wide hips and some had narrow hips and a crest on the head. One of the fossils with wide hips had an egg still in its pelvis. Scientists realized that the wide-hipped fossils were female. The narrow-hipped fossils were male.
  • Darwinopterus eggs were soft and leathery, like a snake’s. These dinosaurs probably buried their eggs in sand to keep them from drying out.

Questions and Answers

Question: How did Darwinopterus get its name?

Answer: Darwinopterus is named for the famous scientist Charles Darwin, who introduced the ideas of natural selection and evolution to the world. Darwinopterus was named such because this pterosaur is a combination of two different types of pterosaurs.

It had the body of a rhamphorhynchoid, a group of pterosaurs who lived during the Triassic and Jurassic Periods and had long tails and small legs. It had the large head and long neck of a pterodactyloid, a pterosaur that lived later.

Scientists believe Darwinopterus was a transitional animal between the two types of pterosaurs. Animals are always evolving and changing, but it’s rare to find such clear evidence of that change happening.

Learn More

Read more about the evolution of Darwinopterus.