Ludodactylus vitor-silva

Credit: vitor-silva

Ludodactylus was a genus of pterodactyloid pterosaurs from the Aptian-age Lower Cretaceous Crato Formation of Ceará, Brazil. The genus was named by Eberhard Frey et al. in 2003 and contains one known species, Ludodactylus sibbicki. The name is derived from Latin ludus, "play" and Greek daktylos, "finger".

Ludus refers to the fact, long lamented by paleontologists, that many toy pterosaurs combined teeth with a Pteranodon-like head crest, while no such creature was known to exist — however Ludodactylus shows exactly this combination of features. "Dactylus", in reference to the characteristic long wing finger, has been a common element in the names of pterosaurs since the first known was named Pterodactylus. The specific name "sibbicki" is an homage to the paleoartist John Sibbick.


Ludodactylus is based on holotype SMNK PAL 3828, a skull missing part of the head crest, that was removed from the plate before the fossil was illegally sold. Unlike other ornithocheirids, it had no premaxillary crest on the snout, but did have a crest at the back of the skull. Frey et al. interpreted the deep mandible as a crest on the lower jaws. Trapped between the rami of the mandible is a yucca leaf; Frey suggested that the animal got it caught in its beak and unsuccessfully tried to dislodge it (the edge of the leaf is frayed), and then possibly died from starvation or a complication of starving.

The skull would have been more than 66 cm (26 in) long. Following the skull estimate, Ludodactylus would've been near the size of Pteranodon, likely reaching a wingspan up to over 6 meters (18-20 ft) in length. Like most medium-sized pterodactyloids, a Ludodactylus at average probably grew to stand about 0.6-0.9 meters (2-3 ft) tall.


Frey et al. in 2003 classified Ludodactylus in the family Ornithocheiridae. In 2007 Frey, had reconsidered the validity of Ludodactylus, suggesting that it may represent the same animal as, and be a junior synonym of, Brasileodactylus. However, Andres & Myers (2013), in a large cladistic analysis of pterosaurs, found Ludodactylus to be slightly more closely related to ornithocheirids and anhanguerids than to Brasileodactylus. In the analysis of Andres and Myers, Ludodactylus is classified just outside Ornithocheiridae and Anhangueridae as a derived member of the more inclusive group Pteranodontoidea.

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  • Although in years prior the genus was yet to be discovered, the Ludodactylus has inadvertently appeared in the media as of the 20th century, represented by the Pteranodon as a giant toothed pterosaur that preyed upon humans and other terrestrial creatures, in most films, toys, and cartoons, this foreshadowing of the existence of what the public would eventually recongnize it as Ludodactylus.
    Ice-age 3 Ludodactylus 1

    Roger a Ludodactylus

  • Some of them appeared In Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. One was ridden on by Buck along with Crash & Eddy. “But in real life they don’t have long tails.”
  • In Toy Story That Time Forgot as the Cleric an anthropomorphic Ludodactylus and leader of the Battlesaurs.
  • 2 of them by the names Coldfront & Frostbite appeared In The Good Dinosaur as one of Thunderclap's gang.
  • A Ludodactylus appears in The Land Before Time TV series episode "The Spooky Nighttime Adventure".