Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Order Pterosauria
Family Dimorphodontidae
Genus Peteinosaurus
1st Species Peteinosaurus zambellii
Other attributes
Time Range 221-210 mya
Location Italy
Name Meaning Winged lizard
Physical Dimensions 60 centimeter wingspan
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Peteinosaurus is a dimorphodontid pterosaurian reptile from the Late Triassic of Italy. It was named in 1978 by Rupert Wild. It was one of the earliest pterosaurs, and it also had the shortest wings out of any pterosaur.


Peteinosaurus had a build true to its primitive origins, with 4 legs (2 of which served as wings), 4 fingers on each hand (one of which was elongated and supported the wing membrane), a small body, a long tail with a diamond-shaped vane on its end, and a large head with large jaws. Most of its body (excluding its snout, wings, and vane) would have been covered in a fur-like covering called pycnofibers.


Peteinosaurus was a predator, preying on insects, lizards, and small mammals. Its jaws had 3 types of small, conical teeth, all of which were used for getting a hold of and making short work of struggling prey.


Peteinosaurus had skeletal features that would carry on further in pterosaur evolution, such as lightweight (but strong) bones, as well as an elongated fourth finger that serves as support for its wing membranes. However, as a dimorphodontid, Peteinosaurus had extremely short wings (its wings were only twice as long as its legs), which meant that it probably wasn't an extremely competent flier; rather, it spent most of its time on the ground and in the trees, only flying in order to escape predators or reach a location that could not be accessed by climbing. Due to its 3 types of small teeth, many people have considered it to be an insectivore; however, one of its close relatives, Dimorphodon, had a somewhat similar dentition, but is considered to have been a generalist predator of small animals. We can assume that Peteinosaurus had a similar lifestyle, chasing down lizards and small mammals, as well as snapping its jaws on insects before they had a chance to fly away.

In popular cultureEdit

Peteinosaurus was featured in the first episode of the 1999 documentary Walking with Dinosaurs, where it is depicted as a competent aerial predator that is able to even snatch dragonflies out of the air with its jaws. As well as this, it was mentioned to be a somewhat successful reptile that would give way to the appearance of more advanced pterosaurs, similarly to its dinosaurian counterpart, Coelophysis.

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