The Largest Rhamphorhynchus Specimens

Bennett (1975) determined that all Rhamphorhynchus specimens were conspecific with the various sizes and shapes representing the two genders and juveniles. More recently Prondvai et al (2012) followed this hypothesis in their bone histology study. Previously we looked at the smallest Rhamphs and determined that none resembled known larger specimens enough to consider them juveniles of same. Today we’ll look at the largest Rhamphs to determine if any of them might be considered conspecific.

The largest Rhamphorhynchus specimens

Figure 1. A sampling of the largest Rhamphorhynchus specimens to scale. If Bennett (1995) and Prondvai et al. (2012) are correct, then these specimens should look conspecific. But they don't. The smaller ones would be juveniles and n81 would be the only fully mature individual. That doesn't make sense. It doesn't take a detailed view to see they are as different from one another as various species or even genera of birds.

So, Which of These Are Juveniles?
Above (Fig. 1) are shown several of the largest Rhamphorhynchus specimens. If these are all conspecific then the individual variation extends throughout the skeleton to the pedal phalangeal ratios. Like Pteranodon, Pterodactylus and several other purported genera, this clade needs a complete revision, looking at and reconstructing individuals.

As always, I encourage readers to see specimens, make observations and come to your own conclusions. Test. Test. And test again. 

Evidence and support in the form of nexus, pdf and jpeg files will be sent to all who request additional data.

Bennett SC 1995. A statistical study of Rhamphorhynchus from the southern limestone of Germany: year classes of a single large species. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 69: 569–580.
Prondvai E, Stein K, Ösi A, Sander MP 2012. Life History of Rhamphorhynchus Inferred from Bone Histology and the Diversity of Pterosaurian Growth Strategies. PlosOne. online pdf

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