Ornithocheirus….probably

One final entry on pterosaur heads, and once more it’s from the Oxford Museum. This time out it’s Ornithocheirus. Or Anhanguera. Or, well something. This is quite a common issue with the identity of some models or artworks of certain extinct organisms. Not only is the taxonomy of Ornithocheirus and its closest relatives controversial, but the identification of various specimens is perhaps incorrect (even taking into account the taxonomic confusion). To cap it all, most of them probably looked more or less the same once the flesh has been put back on the broken bones.

Sure, there are important characters here based on tooth shape and position and the size and shape of the crests. But by the time you have made allowances for natural variation and ontogeny and the issues above, it’s probably not unreasonable to call this particular model any of half a dozen species names in two or three genera with good reason and no obvious or especially tricky contradictions. I’m happy to call it Ornithocheirus as it was labeled as such in the museum and presumably was based on material listed under that name, but the main thing is that it is a beautifully crafted model with much going for it in terms of aesthetics and accuracy.


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