Dorygnathus

Rhamphorhynchus, Pterodactylus and Pteranodon tend to get all the press when it comes to pterosaurs as they are known from lots of good fossils. As a result, we have a generally good understanding of their anatomy and they provide fairly good representatives of (respectively) basal pterosaurs, basal pterodactyloids and derived forms. Others get good press because of exceptionally interesting features or soft tissues so Sordes, Jeholopterus and Tapejara are also well discussed.

However, there are quite a few other pterosaurs known from quite a collection of good material including Dorygnathus. This Lower Jurassic rhamphorhynchoid known from France and Germany is represented by more than 30 skeletons as well as numerous isolated elements. Pictured is just one specimen, well, a cast actually, inevitably from Oxford. The colours might look unusual but are quite accurate as the material comes from nearly black shales and so both the bones and matrix are pretty much at the dark end of very dark grey and this can make them tricky things to photograph, though up close the quality of preservation is really rather good.

A recent and massive redescription and revision of Dorygnathus by Kevin Padian has pooled and updated pretty much all of the available material and information into one convenient paper which really should help things along. Even so, this is one of a few underrepresented and under-discussed taxa when it comes to the pterosaur literature and by extension the wider world, so a little post on here was long overdue.


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