"A good analogy is a human," Hone explained. "If I just lie in a swimming pool I barely have my mouth above the water." And any waves would make it extremely hard to breathe.
But that does not mean pteranodons were bad at foraging in water, any more than it means humans can't swim, Hone said.
"It isn't necessarily a problem," Hone said, citing modern birds that spend much of their lives over the ocean but are rather poor at floating on the surface. "Pterosaurs are the Cretaceous albatross."
Other researchers who have modeled behaviors of pteranodon agree that the posture in the water is not a problem.
"I'm glad they put it in the water, said Sankar Chatterjee of Texas Tech University. "I was really surprised by the way the wings are really like a sail."
Hone and Henderson published their work in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Their abstract can be found here.