Pterosaurs as a Teaching Tool
The description of a new azhdarchid pterosaur from the Two Medicine Formation of Montana provides new information on this distinctive group of animals. The body plan of this pterosaur also provides for a unique public outreach opportunity. Both the size and shape of this pterosaur makes it ideal for constructing a 1:1 scale puppet that can be used to introduce audiences to pterosaur biology and ecology. The puppet is accompanied with an engaging, interactive presentation about the diversity and evolution of life in the Cretaceous. This time period is often portrayed to the public as the “Age of Dinosaurs,” but the diversity of the Mesozoic included much more than just dinosaurs, as evidenced by the assemblage of animals found at Jack's Birthday Site, a fossil bone bed. This site, found in the Two Medicine Formation of Montana, is one of the best faunal assemblage samples from this area. Although this site is rich in dinosaur fauna, it also documents the presence of birds, pterosaurs, lizards, and mammals. The life-sized puppet is an experiment in engaging and teaching broad audiences about pterosaurs, the site from which this specimen was found, and methods of paleontology.