Earlier we were delighted to see a Jurassic drama frozen in time as an Aspidorhynchus fish and Rhamphorhynchus pterosaur were fossilized together in an extremely rare fossil. (Fig. 1, Frey and Tischlinger 2012).
Now there’s a pair of them!
When I first saw the second Aspidorus-Rhamphorhynchus fossil (Fig. 2), at first I thought it was identical. But it is only the same situation and (nearly) the same players. Not the same pose. Well, the fish is looking over its left shoulder again. But now it looks like they’re dancing — slow dancing.
Revelation of the fish/pterosaur drama began in 2007 with the exposure of the pterosaur skull. Only a stain marked the position of the fish as shown in this 3 frame movie (click to animate, Fig. 3).
A reconstruction of the Rhamphorhynchus is shown here (Fig. 4). I’ll add it to a phylogenetic analysis later, but it seems to have a distinct rostral profile, long torso, short arms and robust wings. It’s also on the large side.
Here (Fig. 5) are the two Rhamphorhynchus specimens featured today along with their 60cm dance partner, all to the same scale.
It’s rare to find two species interacting in the fossil record.
So it makes news when it happens. The above may be breaking news because the supplier of the photograph, Beat Imhof, tells me it has not been published.
Frey E and Tischlinger H (2012). The Late Jurassic Pterosaur Rhamphorhynchus, a Frequent Victim of the Ganoid Fish Aspidorhynchus? PLoS ONE 7(3): e31945. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031945, available online