A Perfect Pterosaur: Pterodactylus scolopaciceps (n21) – part 2

Post #600

Most pterosaur fossils are incomplete, crushed and disarticulated. By contrast, Pterodactylus scolopaciceps  BSP 1937 I 18 (Broili 1938, P. kochi n21 of Wellnhofer 1970, 1991, Fig. 1) is just the opposite, complete, uncrushed and articulated. Yesterday we looked at the presence of vestigial manual digit 5.

Figure 1. Pterodactylus scolopaciceps  BSP 1937 I 18 (Broili 1938, P. kochi No. 21 of Wellnhofer 1970, 1991) complete, articulated and including soft tissue.

Figure 1. Pterodactylus scolopaciceps BSP 1937 I 18 (Broili 1938, P. kochi No. 21 of Wellnhofer 1970, 1991) complete, articulated and including soft tissue.

Today we’ll look at the wingtip unguals. Check out this image (Fig. 2) to see if you can find them first. They are no deeper than the distal joint of m4.4.

Wingtip unguals for n21, Pterodactylus scolopaciceps.

Figure 1. Wingtip unguals for n21, Pterodactylus scolopaciceps. Perhaps largely buried in the matrix on the left (but see caption in figure 2), but note the expanded cochlear joint (the knuckle) at the wing tip. Why would this be present if not for the presence of one more phalanx, the ungual, at the tip? The ungual is not covered in the right wingtip.

And here’s the color-coded interpretation of m4.4 and the ungual m4.5 for both wings.

Wingtip unguals for n21, Pterodactylus scolopaciceps color coded.

Figure 2. Wingtip unguals for n21, Pterodactylus scolopaciceps color coded. On the left the ungual may be largely buried by overlying matrix. On the other hand, we may be seeing the ungual in palmar view and the expanded region may represent the ungual. On the right the ungual is more fully exposed in lateral view. Compare to figure 2.

Traditional paleontology reports the ungual is missing from the wingtip of pterosaurs. Here is evidence to the contrary. These images also document the lack of preparation around the wing ungual. We also saw a great little wing ungual on a Pterodactylus cast from a Dublin museum two days ago. So they’re often seen, not often uncovered when buried.

Tomorrow we’ll take another look at n21, a perfect Pterodactylus, focusing on the presence of a distinct naris.

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.

References
Broili F 1938. Beobachtungen an Pterodactylus. Sitz-Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaten, zu München, Mathematischen-naturalischenAbteilung: 139–154.
Wellnhofer P 1970. Die Pterodactyloidea (Pterosauria) der Oberjura-Plattenkalke Süddeutschlands. Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, N.F., Munich 141: 1-133.

wiki/Pterodactylus

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