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. Earlier we looked at the presence of a distinct naris, prior to that wing unguals and theday before that we documented vestigial manual digit 5.
Today we’ll look at the soft tissue in this “perfect” specimen. There is a great deal of preparatory nicking on this specimen leaving skin impressions unmarked.
Pterosaur soft tissue is rarely preserved, but this specimen has it in spades from a throat sac to large and flat trapezius muscles (in pink) linking the neck to the shoulders and several other wing and leg membranes. As in all other known pterosaurs the wing membrane does not attach at the ankle, but becomes very narrow aft of the elbow (in cyan blue) before blending with the “fuselage fillet” next to the ribs and extending back to the thigh muscle. The propatagium (in violet) relaxes with the pteroid as the elbow flexes. A right uropatagium (in green) is very easy to see extending behind the right knee from above the ankle to the pelvis. The left one is tucked away. Small trim tab membranes (in amber) extend anterior to each ankle, as in Sharovipteryx (Fig. 3). These have been overlooked by all prior workers. The feet are webbed.
A closer look at pedal digit 5
The conventional paradigm holds that pedal digit 5 in pterodactyloid-grade pterosaurs was reduced to a stub and in no pterosaurs was p5.3 (the ungual preserved). Earlier we found the ungual of pedal digit 5 on several specimens. The ungual is here (Fig. 5) on n21 as well, despite the vestigial size of the rest of the digit. In fact the ungual exceeds the length of m5.2, which in basal pterosaurs can be longer than the metatarsus. Here (Fig. 5) the metatarsus of pedal digit 5 is larger than the digit, which remains hyperflexed as in rhamphorhynchoid-grade pterosaurs.
This concludes our examination of n21, the perfect Pterodactylus. And this is why PterosaurHeresies.com was created, to expose problems and false paradigms in reptile paleontology, wherever they may arise.
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.
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.
Manual digit 5 is present on both metacarpals. All the elements match one another.