Pterodactyls are Pterrifying

I have known for a long time that dinosaurs are awesome.  This weekend I learned something about my favorite dinosaur that I never knew before. 

The whole family went to the Turtle Back Zoo with our next door neighbors on Saturday August 25, 2012.  On the drive there, the skies opened up and it poured rain for most of the drive.  When we got to the bottom of the hill where the zoo was, the rain stopped – the ground was completely dry and our day at the zoo was on.

Our first stop in the zoo was the reptile house.  The first thing you see when you walk in is a giant pterodactyl hanging in the ceiling.  We had been here before, and I had seen it hanging up there before -but I never thought to question “why?”

Why is the coolest f’ing dinosaur ever in the reptile house?  I asked myself.  The pterydactyl is a bird!  It has wings.  It flies.  It makes that scary-ass screeching sound when it swoops down to catch its prey with its super sharp talons.  At least, it probably did anyway.  It is the scariest BIRD to ever flap its wings.   It had no feathers – it was the bird equivalent of those freaky bald cats that the Egyptians had on the walls of the pyramids.  Hell, even the way you spell its name is frightening.

I asked my wife, “Why is there a pterodactyl in here, aren’t they birds?”  No sooner did I finish my question to her, when she pointed to the info written out below the display.  Pterodactyls are REPTILES!  My mind was blown.  My entire childhood and grown life I thought that they were birds.  I began to question if everything I had known up until that point had been a lie to me.

So I quickly took that picture that you see above, and texted it to my oldest friend ChuckO.  We always used to say to each other: “OH NO!!, THE PTERODACTYL!!”  I have no idea when we started saying that to each other, or why it started in the first place – but to this day if one of us were to use a super stupid high pitch voice to say “OH NO!!” – the other one would continue “THE PTERODACTYL!!”

I did a bit of research while I was writing this and learned even more about Pterodactyls.  Apparently, the term pterodactyl, isn’t even their real name. 

1. There’s no such creature as a “pterodactyl.”

It’s unclear at what point “pterodactyl” became a synonym for pterosaurs in general, and Pterodactylus and Pteranodon in particular, but the fact remains that this is the word most people use. Working paleontologists never refer to “pterodactyls,” preferring to focus on individual pterosaur genera.

Thanks to this website for crushing my childhood dreams even further.  10 Facts About Pterodactyl

While my childhood may have been turned upside down at the zoo this weekend, the kids had a blast.  And if I can’t have my own pet pterodactyl, then I want a Pterodactyls are Pterrifying tshirt.  Even if they aren’t the scariest birds ever.