the one-third-size juvenile, commonly called “The Vienna specimen” NHMW 1998z0077/0001, which nests with the adult largest Rhamphorhynchus of all, BMNH 37002, n82 in the Wellnhofer 1975 catalog.
The four new specimens
include two specimens caught in the jaws of Late Jurassic fish (Fig. 2), the Imhof specimen and WDC CSG 255. Also included are BRI010, again from the Imhof collection and TMP 2008.41.0001, a sister to the dark wing specimen. The latter three bridge the gap between the n81 and n82 rare giants and the smaller more typical specimens, like the dark wing specimen, JME SOS 4784. The Imhof specimen nests basal to the giants.
Are all Rhamphorhynchus specimens congeneric? Or conspecific?
No. Many look similar, but on closer examination, or phylogenetic analysis, the differences are manifold, contra Bennett 1995.
- Some adults are tiny, others are mid-sized, and a few are relative giants
- Some have a short rostrum, but most do not.
- The finger and toe patterns vary greatly. The free finger sizes vary, too.
- Sternal complex shapes vary greatly.
- Some have a robust cervical series. Others do not.
Some things do not change between specimens
- The wing membrane has a shallow chord at the elbow, as in all pterosaurs.
- The nares and antorbital fenestra are both small
- The humerus is relatively short and the torso long such that when tucked posteriorly the elbow is still several vertebrae away from the anterior ilium.
- The teeth lean anteriorly
- The metatarsals spread and pedal digit 5 is relatively short.
Many of these things don’t become apparent
until you can see the whole lot reconstructed at one glance, or in phylogenetic analysis where you really do pay attention to details that lump and split clades and nodes.
Bennett SC 1995. A statistical study of Rhamphorhynchus from the Solnhofen Limestone of Germany: Year-classes of a single large species. Journal of Paleontology 69:569-580.
Smith-Woodward A 1902. On two skulls of the Ornithosaurian Rhamphorhynchus. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, London, (7) 9:1-5.
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.