Ornithocheiroid jaws

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This is just the anterior part of a skull of the ornithocheiroid pterosaur Coloborhynchus. I wanted to show it here for a few reasons as though it’s a fairly unremarkable fossil, it does illustrate a few points well. First off, not all pterosaurs are compressed 2-D fossils – I’m sure many of you know that already, but this does show the quality of the three dimensional preservation here, it is in fantastic condition, with no signs of breaks, distortions or wear (well apart from 95% of the skeleton being missing, obviously). Secondly, it shows the prominent (even procumbent) front teeth that stick forwards out of the front of the jaws that appear in some ornithocheiroids. We really don’t know what they were for, if they even had a special purpose. Finally, this specimen is actually fairly typical of many ornithocheroid specimens – or at least the early ones. The taxonomy of this clade is really a bit of a mess as in the late 1800s a great many names were attached to very fragmentary specimens with various bits of crests and different tooth arrangements. As a result when more complete material started to appear (most notably from Brazil) it rapidly became apparent that features of some isolated bits that had previously been named as separate entities could be found together on a single more complete skull or skeleton, and often multiple times on specimens that were themselves clearly different. Various efforts have been made to sort all of this out with some successes, but of course new finds keep coming out and some of those names just won’t die. Expect to be wading through a quite a few genus and species names of these guys for some time to come.

2 Responses to “Ornithocheiroid jaws”


  1. 1 Christopher Collinson 25/04/2009 at 2:28 pm

    Interesting. The subtleties of how the spoon shaped expansion affect the shape of the rostrum are really quite noticeable from that angle. You really don’t get the entire picture from just the usual orthogonal views. Also, a photo were the anterior face of the rostrum is not in deep shadow = awesome! Thanks!


  1. 1 Ludodactylus « Dave Hone’s Archosaur Musings Trackback on 02/06/2009 at 9:23 am

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