A Perfect Pterosaur: Pterodactylus scolopaciceps (n21) – part 3

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 wing unguals and the day before we documented 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 for a separate naris from the antorbital fenestra, a trait traditional paleontologists report does not exist. Here (Fig. 2) is the rostrum of n21. Can you find the distinct naris separate from the antorbital fenestra?

Pterodactylus naris in situ. Can you find the small naris distinct from the much larger antorbital fenestra?

Figure 2. Pterodactylus naris in situ. Can you find the small naris distinct from the much larger antorbital fenestra?

Here (Fig. 3) are the bone elements and the naris colorized for identification.

Figure 3. Pterodactylus naris (in black) distinct from the much larger antorbital fenestra. The premaxilla is in yellow, the nasal is pink, the maxilla and its teeth are in green, the jugal is blue. The maxilla has been crushed, disconnecting it from the cylindrical premaxilla.

Figure 3. Pterodactylus naris (in black) distinct from the much larger antorbital fenestra. The premaxilla is in yellow, the nasal is pink, the maxilla and its teeth are in green, the jugal is blue. The maxilla has been crushed, disconnecting it from the cylindrical premaxilla. The palate is partly exposed beneath the maxillary teeth.

Here (Fig. 3), framed by the jugal and nasal bones is the naris (in black), distinct from the much larger antorobital fenestra. Yes, that’s the jugal in blue laminated to the maxilla for most of its length.

A secondary naris
Generally in taxa like this (all descendants of Scaphognathus), one can find another narial opening closer to the anterior maxilla. The shadows below the ascending process of the premaxilla hint at this secondary naris, but it’s unfortunately, too difficult to demonstrate in this specimen. Both nares can be sealed up in highly derived pterosaurs. The presence of the nasal and jugal nearby generally demonstrates where the naris is or was.

We need to start looking more closely at these specimens, tracing the bones with more precision.

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

Manual digit 5 is present on both metacarpals. All the elements match one another.

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