Variation in Rhamphorhynchus muensteri

I recently added several Rhamphorhynchus specimens to see if any were identical to any others. They were not. They nested in interesting ways (see newly revised, completely resolved pterosaur family tree). The R. muensteri clade is here represented by these specimens (n62, the darkwing specimen, MTM V 2998.33.1 and n33), all to scale. Click to enlarge.

Rhamphorhynchus muensteri

Figure 1. Click to enlarge. Specimens that nest with Rhamphorhynchus muensteri in the large pterosaur family tree.

There’s some variation here in relative wing length, pedal phalangeal proportions, sternal shape, leg length, etc. The phylogenetic order is from left to right. The outgroup sister is the relative giant R. longiceps (n81). In life would these be distinct enough to separated into several species? Or are we at the point of individual variation within a species? In either case, we’re about at the limit of separation in the current tree.

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.

Tomorrow we’ll look at variation in four R. gemmingi specimens.

Wellnhofer P 1975a-c. Teil I. Die Rhamphorhynchoidea (Pterosauria) der Oberjura-Plattenkalke Süddeutschlands. Allgemeine Skelettmorphologie. Paleontographica A 148: 1-33.Teil II. Systematische Beschreibung. Paleontographica A 148: 132-186. Teil III. Paläokolgie und Stammesgeschichte. Palaeontographica 149: 1-30.


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