Dominating the skies with a massive wingspan and many sharp teeth, pterodactyls, despite having a hard-to-spell name, are one of the most well-known dinosaurs of all time, and certainly seen to be among one of the most unique varieties of these fascinating beasts. The word pterodactyl in itself is a generic term that is used to refer to a wide variety of dinosaurs called pterosaurs, many of which didn't actually share a large number of common traits other than having wings and being able to fly. The name arose from pop culture although it isn't clear exactly when, where, or how the name came to be. The name, in reality, refers usually to two famous species of pterosaurs of the Mesozoic Era: Pteranodon and Pterodactylus. There is a very large number of Pterodactyus and Pteranodon species, which is another reason why a very broad term like pterodactyl cannot cover all of the many varieties of dinosaurs that existed within the classification. Regardless of what a large amount of uniformed people still figure, current winged creatures didn't descend from pterosaurs like Pterodactylus and Pteranodon. Modern birds in fact came from the little, two-legged, meat-eating dinosaurs of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, a significant number of which possessed feathers and did not actually possess wings. The biggest types of the late Cretaceous Pteranodon had wingspans of up to 30 feet, considerably bigger than any flying creatures alive today. In comparison, Pterodactylus (which lived countless years sooner) was a relative runt, the wingspans of the biggest varieties covering just eight feet or somewhere in the vicinity (and most of these species were flaunting wingspans of just a few feet, well inside the current avian range.) There was considerably less contrast in the heaviness of these pterosaurs; both were greatly light, so as to produce the maximal measure of lift expected to fly, similar to how modern birds have very lightweight bones. Other than its size, the most unique component of Pteranodon was the long, pointy crest it had on the back of its head. The function and purpose of this piece of anatomy is still widely debated and unknown. A few scientists estimate that Pteranodon utilized this peak as a mid-flight rudder (maybe it tied down a long fold of skin), while others demand it was entirely a signal to eligible mates that an individual was sexually mature. One of the significant contrasts amongst Pterodactylus and Pteranodon is that the former pterosaur had only a few teeth, while the latter was totally toothless. Overall, pterosaurs were a fascinating variety of dinosaurs that are still widely misunderstood today.