an order of extinct reptiles of the superorder Pterosauria. The Pterodactyloidei lived in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. They were a highly specialized group that had adapted to life in the air. They had a characteristically light skull that was very elongated. The teeth were few and small and frequently absent. The cervical vertebrae were elongated and lacked cervical ribs. The wings were powerful and broad, and the flying fingers were foldable. The tail was very short. The bones of the tibia were concresced.
Pterodactyloidei varied greatly in size, from the size of a sparrow to that of the giant pteranodons. The smaller species fed on insects, while the larger species fed on fish and other aquatic animals. Remains of Pterodactyloidei are known from Cretaceous and Upper Jurassic deposits of Western Europe, East Africa, America, and, in the USSR, the Volga Region.