Pterodactyloid Monocuspid Teeth


The pterodactyloid pterosaurs were well adapted to the environment in which they lived.  This includes jaw adaptations that have developed different teeth forms.  However, for those pterodactyloids that had toothed jaws, the tooth type was predominantly of the same form.


This drawing of a Generalised Pterodactyloid tooth shows the degree of the curving and the cross sectional shape.  The tooth is very even in its form and shows a consistent section throughout, with a hollow base.

This tooth form is found from the Middle Jurassic pterosaurs to the Late Cretaceous forms.  Some pterosaurs and specifically Ornithocheirids, tended to have shallowly ribbed teeth. Other forms had smooth teeth.

A reduction in dentition is observed in many species often with an increased gap between the teeth.

The tooth on the right is from an Ornithocheirid.  It shows the degree of narrow ribbing on the surface and it also shows a typical wear facet at the top.  For this degree of wear, this tooth must have come from an old animal.

In some species, the teeth at the front of the jaw were the largest.  Tooth size would have reduced towards the back of the jaw.

Other pterodactyloids showed a reduction in tooth numbers, perhaps only having teeth in the very front of the jaw

Ctenochasma is an exception to the common trend, having an increase in teeth numbers.  These pterosaurs have very fine teeth, though they are similar in shape to those shown here, just a lot thinner.

Ctenochasma gracile with increased teeth numbers.

Germanodactylyus cristatus with reduced anterior teeth.

Anurognathus ammoni with reduced jaw length.


Wellnhofer P., 1980, Flugsaurierreste aus der Goseu-Kreide von Muthmannsdorf (Neider˘sterreich) - ein Beitrang zur Kiefermechanik der Pterosaurier, Mitteilungen der Bayerischen Statssammlung fur Paleontologie und historische Geologie, 20: 95-112 Munchen


01 - Background

02 - Tricuspid teeth

03 - early Monocuspid teeth

04 - late Monocuspid teeth

05 - Tooth reduction

06 - Special adaptations

07 - Key to identification

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