The Creatures of 'Primeval' -- Dinosaurs in the Sky!

In case it doesn't disturb you enough to have prehistoric monsters bounding across the horizon and lurking around the depths of the ocean, recall that dinosaurs also ruled the air. It's a scary thought, isn't it? Let alone the threat of reptilian predation from above, the situation with droppings must have been completely out of hand.

If you watch this week's episode of "Primeval," you know that these airborne reptiles aren't all as friendly as series mascot Rex. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of these aerial lizards, a necessary clarification: What's the difference between pterodactyls, pterosaurs and pteranodons? Easy: Pterosaurs ("wing lizards") are dinosaurs belonging to the order Pterosauria, and were the first vertebrates capable of flight. This large group of animals is often incorrectly referred to as pterodactyls ("wing fingers"), which are actually a suborder of the Pterosaur family. And finally pteranodons ("wing, toothless") are a specific genus within the pterodactyl suborder. (For the sake of reference, humans are a species in the primates order.)

Composite pteranodon skeleton hanging in the American Museum of Natural History, via Wikimedia Commons
So know that when you see a looming shadow over the golf course of tonight's episode, it belongs to a pteranodon, not a pterodactyl.

The real treat in tonight's "Primeval," however, would have to be the Anurognathus ("without tail"), a tiny aerial dinosaur that suggests the worst possibly offspring between a hummingbird and a piranha. Here's where we cut the easily rattled a break: The creative types behind "Primeval" considerably amped up the Anurognathus to make it more of a threat to the show's human characters. Wikipedia notes that while its anatomy suggests it was an insectivore and a hunter, scientists are divided on how it went about hunting. Neither camp, however, seems to think that the Anurognathus possessed a piranha-like affinity for blood or the ability to skeletonize carcasses. It's worth pointing out that the team behind "Primeval" previously featured the Anurognathus on "Walking With Dinosaurs" as having a symbiotic relationship with larger dinosaurs -- as Wikipedia notes, akin to that of a tickbird and a rhino. This, however, is also conjecture.

We chose the Anurognathus to be our crayon-ready, color-in-able dino of the week. Download the printable PDF here.


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