Germanodactylus cristatus revisited

Figure 1. The Germanodactylus cristatus plate containing a scattered skeleton.

Figure 1. The Germanodactylus cristatus plate containing a scattered skeleton. Click to enlarge.

Germanodactylus cristatus (B St 1892 IV 1) is best known from a plate of scattered fossil bones (Fig. 1), but there is also a counterplate that adds data. Today a combination of the plate and counter plate skull material (Fig. 2) refines what we know of G. cristatus, a taxon basal to Dsungaripterus, Sinopterus and Shenzhoupterus and their kin – AND ALSO – not far from the last common ancestor of Elanodactylus, Wenupteryx, Pteranodon and Nyctosaurus.

Short history
B St 1892 IV 1
 (Pterodactylus kochi Plieninger 1901, Germanodactylus cristatus Wiman 1925, No. 61 of Wellnhofer 1970) was originally considered a Pterodactylus. Bennett (1996) reported that specimens of Pterodactylus were juvenile Germanodactylus. That hypothesis was rejected by all workers including Bennett himself. Bennett (2006) reported on two tiny Solnhofen pterosaurs which he considered juveniles of Germanodactylus. Here these two tiny pterosaurs, No. 9 and No. 31 (from the Wellnhofer 1970 catalog), nest separately, as tiny adults closer to Scaphognathus.

Figure 2. GIF animation of skull elements (plate and counter plate) with DGS tracings. See figure 3 for reconstruction. Scenes change every 5 seconds. Note the rostral and mandible tip teeth, homologous with those in toothless pterosaurs related to this taxon.

Figure 2. GIF animation of skull elements (plate and counter plate) with DGS tracings. See figure 3 for reconstruction. Scenes change every 5 seconds. Note the rostral and mandible tip teeth, homologous with those in toothless pterosaurs related to this taxon. Nine frames then repeat.

This B St 1892 IV 1 specimen is fairly easy to trace,
but the palatal and occipital elements are often ignored. Some breakage requires repairs. Some soft tissue is preserved, including the location of the naris within the antorbital fenestra (small gray dot). But also look for a tiny secondary narial opening just anterior to the antorbital fenestra between the nasal and jugal. We looked at the origin of the secondary naris here, at the Scaphognathus node.

Figure 3. Reconstructiion of Germanodactylus cristatus skull, including palatal and occipital elements, plus a Y-shaped hyoid (tongue bone). The maxilla has large palatal plates. The vomers are gracile and elongated. The pterygoids are in pink They were split in situ with maxillary processes separate from posteromedial portion. Ectopterygoid + palatine = ectopalatine, slender elements ventral here to pterygoids, but actually dorsal in vivo.

Figure 3. Reconstructiion of Germanodactylus cristatus skull, including palatal and occipital elements, plus a Y-shaped hyoid (tongue bone). The maxilla has large palatal plates. The vomers are gracile and elongated. The pterygoids are in pink They were split in situ with maxillary processes separate from posteromedial portion. Ectopterygoid + palatine = ectopalatine, slender elements ventral here to pterygoids, but actually dorsal in vivo.

The standing image
of G. cristatus at reptileevolution.com has also been revised (Fig. 4). Earlier the maxilla was portrayed as preserved on one side, with a concave ventral margin, but the other side has a straight ventral margin. When matched to the mandible, the straight ventral margin is a closer match, which gives the dorsal rostral margin a concave curve when revised in vivo.

Figure 4. Germanodactylus cristatus with newly revised skull.

Figure 4. Germanodactylus cristatus with newly revised skull including the palate. Note the very thin distal wing elements.

References
Bennett SC 1996. Year-classes of pterosaurs from the Solnhofen Limestone of Germany: taxonomic and systematic implications. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 16 (2): 432–444. doi:10.1080/02724634.1996.10011332.
Bennett SC 2006. Juvenile specimens of the pterosaur Germanodactylus cristatus, with a review of the genus. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26:872–878.
Plieninger F 1901. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der FlugsaurierPaläontographica 48, 65–90 and pls 4–5.
Wellnhofer P 1970. Die Pterodactyloidea (Pterosauria) der Oberjura-Plattenkalke Süddeutschlands. Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, N.F., Munich 141: 1-133.
Wiman C 1925. Aus dem Leber der Flugsaurier. Bulletin of the Geological Insititute of the University of Uppsala 19: 115-127

wiki/Germanodactylus

 

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