LACM Pteranodon – Chimaeras and Fakes – Part 7

Is the neck too big?

Figure 1. the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum specimen LACM 50926, famous for having a shark tooth embedded in the anterior cervical. But does the neck belong to the rest of the specimen?

Figure 1. the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum specimen LACM 50926, famous for having a shark tooth embedded in the anterior cervical. But does the neck belong to the rest of the specimen? or is it a chimaera?

According to Bennett (2003), the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum specimen of Pteranodon, LACM 50926, includes the following bones:

  1. Fragmentary skull, including a deformed mandible ramus.
  2. right radius and ulna, tibia;
  3. left scapula, coracoid, humerus, radius, metacarpal 4;
  4. both m4.1, m4.2, m4.3, femur

Absent from this list is the cervical series, represented on the mount with a series of five bones, one with the famous embedded shark tooth. So the cervicals are not on “the list,” yet there they are. Did they come from another Pteranodon? Is this another chimaera? Good question. If anyone has the answer, please let me know.

Figure 2. Reconstruction of LACM 50926 with painted and questionable material in light red. Here the cervicals look too big for this mid-sized specimen.

Figure 2. Reconstruction of LACM 50926 with painted and questionable material in light red. Here the cervicals look too big for this mid-sized specimen.

At present and by comparison
A reconstruction (Fig. 2) demonstrates the cervicals appear to be a little too big for the rest of the skeleton. They don’t look too bad on the mount because the museum staff only employed 5 of the 8 cervicals that are supposed to be there. Here (fig. 3)are more complete Pteranodon specimens for comparison:

Figure 3. The Triebold specimen and UALVP 24238, the two most complete Pteranodon known. Neither has quite the neck length exhibited by the LACM specimen.

Figure 3. The Triebold specimen and UALVP 24238, the two most complete Pteranodon known. Neither has quite the neck length exhibited by the LACM specimen.

It’s hard to say, but the clues point to a chimaera here. Perhaps someone has the answer. The pelvis of the LACM specimen, also not on the Bennett 2003 manifest, looks odd too.

References
Bennett SC 2003. A survey of pathologies of large pterodactyloid pterosaurs. Palaeontology 46(1):185-198.

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