The Edinburgh Rhamphorhynchus: biting its own tail!

The Edinburgh Rhamphorhynchus (Figs 1, 2, museum number unknown) is fairly complete, but my goodness, what a roadkill! Is it right side up? Or upside down? With the tail and head on the same side, and actually biting it’s own tail, this specimen offers nothing but confusion at first glance.

Figure 1. The Edinburgh specimen of Rhamphorhynchus, as if a Jurassic truck had just run over it.

Figure 1. Click to enlarge. The Edinburgh specimen of Rhamphorhynchus, as if a Jurassic truck had just run over it. This one is biting its own tail!

It’s rare to find wing membranes and a tail vane, but both are present here. Things are a little easier to see when the parts are colorized (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Edinburgh Rhamphorhynchus parts colorized. In the right wing membrane note how the trailing edge of the wing membrane curves back to the knee (proximal tibia).

Figure 2. Click to enlarge. Edinburgh Rhamphorhynchus parts colorized. In the right wing membrane note how the trailing edge of the wing membrane curves back to the knee (proximal tibia).

Someday I’ll do a reconstruction when I find higher resolution. There’s likely more to this specimen that just cannot be seen without better data (higher resolution). Even so, note that the wing membrane appears to curve back toward the knee. Unfortunately this specimen will not solve any arguments with regard to deep chord (to the ankle) vs. narrow chord (to the elbow) wing membranes.

The specimen is not listed in the Wellnhofer (1975) catalog that lists 108 other Rhamphorhynchus specimens. Thus, I’ll guess that it is a newer specimen. It appears to be a R. muensteri species. Scale is unknown, but likely was mid-sized if so.

Reference
Wellnhofer P 1975a-c. Teil I. Die Rhamphorhynchoidea (Pterosauria) der Oberjura-Plattenkalke Süddeutschlands. Allgemeine Skelettmorphologie. Paleontographica A 148: 1-33.Teil II. Systematische Beschreibung. Paleontographica A 148: 132-186. Teil III. Paläokolgie und Stammesgeschichte. Palaeontographica 149: 1-30.

wiki/Rhamphorhynchus

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