These pages are arranged to show the main pterosaur species by geological age and by classification. The aim is to allow the pterosaur species to be placed in context with each other.
This arrangement is tentative as some aspects of the classification are expressed in different ways where current opinion cannot agree on the interpretation of the available data. This is therefore a guide and not a fixed scheme.
The Museum Pages were originally set up to list UK specimens. This is being expanded to World specimens and most of the major museum collections are listed in some form. Only those museums with pterosaur material will appear in these list.
Additional collection material can be forwarded to The Pterosaur Database for inclusion within these lists. The only strict criterion is that the specimens must have a listed location that can be visited by researchers. Please send information by E-mail via the "Make a Pterosaur Enquiry" link on the Home Page.
The museum specimens data base search facility is now available (Feb 2013). The old lists are still online, but will become 'out of date' as they are no longer being updated.
Pterosaurs all have a diapsid skull showing two openings behind the orbit. They have air sacs and pneumatic bones, a sclerotic ring around the eye and a distinctly fused synsacrum and pelvis. These characteristics are found together in several ancient animal groups, but specifically in the Ornithodires.
Depending upon which characters are given dominance, different conclusions can be made. For instance, if you classify based on neck structure, the pterosaurs are more likely to seem like Archosauromorphs. If the dominant characteristic is the foot, then they seem like Dinosauromorphs. At present, there is not enough evidence to identify an ancestral species and make the link back to any specific group. Ornithodire ancestry is just a best guess based on sound, but incomplete, evidence.
Ornithodirea ("Bird Necks") were well developed bipedal creatures who are known to have developed an efficient breathing system during the Middle Triassic, when atmospheric oxygen levels were relatively low. They are at the base of the evolutionary path that lead to the Dinosaurs and Birds. Current thinking also places Pterosaurs in this evolutionary pathway, diverging before the Dinosaurs and Birds.