Why Pterosaurs aren't Dinosaurs

By the way, the University of Kansas’s Natural History Museum Publications website has a good primer on cladistic methodologies.


Add a little more info on the Komodo Dragon bit. Where do monitor lizards fit into the overall picture? You’ve taken it one step and assumed the rest of us know how it fits from there. You assume too much.

How do I assume to much? I’m far less qualified to say where monitor lizards fit into the overall picture than some others on the list. I managed to emerge form 16 years of education without ever taking a biology or zoology course, so this thread is not so much debate as education for me. I learned what I know about the Komodo Dragon from television documentaries. I wouldn’t pretend to have a scientist’s grasp on the subject.

I missed the Komodo Dragon bit quoted above. Komodo Dragons (Varanus komodoensis) are in a completely separate reptile lineage from archosaurs. Within Reptilia, there is a branch known as Sauria. This branch splits into Archosauromorpha on the one hand (which, in turn, contains Archosauria, and therefore dinosaurs, pterosaurs, crocodilians and birds), and Lepidosauromorpha (which contains, among numerous other critters, the varanid lizards [aka “monitor lizards”, which include Komodo Dragons], as well as the various extinct aquatic reptiles: mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and nothosaurs – creatures often mistaken for “aquatic dinosaurs”).

So, the short answer is that Komodos are only distantly related to dinos and pterosaurs.

Would a Komodo dragon, then, be considered a member of the lizard family?

Yes- they are more or less big lizards, and are carnivourous. They like goat. They would eat you, given the chance, although they do not “hunt” humans for food normally.

jklann said:

I was getting an inkling of this when I posted. Thank you for phrasing it in a way that got it through my thick skull.

And this is a serious problem for biologists to address.

John W. Kennedy said:

Um, what? I think what you’re saying is that just because two different groups are subdivisions of a previous ancestor, that does not make them necessarily at the same layer or status in the taxonomic scheme. Correct? The whole Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species thing.

Breathe Exhaust said:

Oops, it appears I’m the one doing the assuming. You spoke so authoritatively I thought you knew more about the subject than I. Guess I was wrong.

Darwin’s Finch said:

Um, right. So I ask a question, then don’t understand the answer. All those dang terms are confusing and hard to keep straight. Which is the whatsit after the thingabob?

Within Reptiles, there is a branch that then has two branches - one leading to dinosaurs, pterosaurs, crocodiles, and birds; the other leading to monitor lizards (komodos, iguanas, etc) and various other extinct forms.

More info on Komodo Dragons was found with a quick google search.

Quick overview: http://www.scz.org/animals/d/komodo.html

informative story form article (lengthy):

jimbobboy, it is a monitor lizard (iguanas are monitor lizards), so I think so.

Totally off topic, but…I believe I read somewhere that a foreign potentate gave America some Komodo dragons. Is that true?

Well, that is rather what I said; I just gave the names of the branches as well :slight_smile:

Although, to ammend your clarification: within Reptiles, there is a branch which then has two branches - one branch leads to dinosaurs, pterosaurs, crocodiles and birds; the other leads to another group which in turn contains monitor lizards, etc. That is, Komodos are several branches deep within this other branch.


Yes. The former premier of Indonesia, Sukarno, gifted this country with two Komodo dragons some years back. They’re now residing at the National Zoo in Washington.


<continued hijack>

If you were in the vicinity of Cincinnati…you would take the kiddos to the Cincinnati Zoo, and there you would see two Komodo dragons…the world’s largest living lizard. (Even if they don’t look like Oriental robes or breathe fire.)

</continued hijack>

No, rather that if one group (e.g., mammals) is descended from another group (e.g., reptiles), they ought not to be at the same level.

MODERATOR NOTE: please be aware that this thread is from 2002-03 until revived near end of 2nd page, in post #66, in April 2014. That’s OK, I just don’t want someone getting worked up about responding to a post that’s over ten years old, and expecting anyone to remember what they said (if they’re even still here) (I’ve edited this alert into the first post in each page.) – CKDH

Where do they get their name from, these Komodo Dragons?

From the island on which they live.
From Scientific American: The Komodo Dragon

Well, now, if we wanted to take the children to see a
Komodo dragon…where would we take the children to see a
Komodo dragon?

If you were in the vicinity of our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C…you would take the kiddos to the National Zoo, and there you would see two Komodo dragons…the world’s largest living lizard. There is a stuffed Komodo dragon in the lobby of the Royal Hotel in Katmandu, Nepal.

Geobabe, try here:

Arnold, you stole my link! (That’s the second one I gave.) :wink:

Very impressive, the Komodo Dragon. How big do they get, say, compared to other lizards?

Maybe I should have titled this thread, “Why Komodo Dragons are neither Pterosaurs nor Dinosaurs, and therefore, perhaps, deserve a thread of their own” :wink:
(Really, I don’t mind the hijack.)

Per Irishman’s link on page 1:

Size of average well fed adult:[ul][li]length: male = 8.6 feet, female = 7.6 feet [/li][li]weight: male = 200 pounds, female = 150 pounds [/ul][/li][/quote]

Which is pretty respectable size for a lizard, I must say.

But if they are a lizard, then why are they called a Dragon?

Errrr… If it’s not a corrupted incorporeal servant of God, why is it called a Tasmanian Devil?