Earlier we added the DMNH Pteranodon skull to the large pterosaur tree and the Pteranodon skull page. What I had for data was the tracing by Chris Bennett from his 1991 PhD thesis. Always looking for more precision, I contacted the stewards of the skull.
Rene Payne and Rick Wicker of the Denver Museum of Natural History (aka Denver Museum of Nature & Science) were kind enough to send me jpegs of both lateral views of their big crested Pteranodon skull (DMNH 1732). Their contract stipulated that I not publish the photos themselves. One photograph had to be slightly distorted to remove parallax to exactly match the outlines of the second photo. That made tracing less of a headache. The tracing (Fig. 1, above) comes off data from both sides.
With the tracing in hand, I compared the cranium and jawline to sister taxa and found the occiput angle of the DMNH specimen to be a little too erect. So the revision (Fig. 1, below) cocks the skull back a little bit, rotating on the quadrate axis. Now it more closely matches sister taxa. The dentary was also straightened out at the break.
The specimen is incomplete, yet saves some interesting parts. The mandible preserves and exposes the robust anterior tooth. The crest is long, but not the longest of all known crests. It is superbly preserved with long grain on the frontal that looks like parallel lines extending in the direction of growth. The anterior single mandible tooth is preserved.
In size and proportion the DMNH specimen nests neatly between the KUVP 2212 and the YPM 2594 specimens of Pteranodon. It’s not quite as unique as once supposed, but does provide clues to the length of the mandible, which is incomplete in YPM 2594.
Bennett SC 1991. Morphology of the Late Cretaceous Pterosaur Pteranodon and Systematics of the Pterodactyloidea. [Volumes I & II]. Ph.D. thesis, University of Kansas, University Microfilms International/ProQuest.
Bennett SC 1992. Sexual dimorphism of Pteranodon and other pterosaurs, with comments on cranial crests. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 12: 422–434.
Bennett SC 1994. Taxonomy and systematics of the Late Cretaceous pterosaur Pteranodon (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea). Occassional Papers of the Natural History Museum University of Kansas 169: 1–70.
Bennett SC 2000. New information on the skeletons of Nyctosaurus. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 20 (Supplement to Number 3):29A.
Bennett SC 2001. The osteology and functional morphology of the Late Cretaceous pterosaur Pteranodon. Part I. General description of osteology. Palaeontographica, Abteilung A, 260: 1–112. Part II. Functional morphology. Palaeontographica, Abteilung A, 260: 113–153.
Eaton GF 1910. Osteology of Pteranodon. Memoirs of the Connectictut Academy of Arts and Sciences 2:1-38.
Marsh OC 1876. Notice of a new sub-order of Pterosauria. American Journal of Science, Series 3, 11:507-509.