Rhamphorhynchus (Ram-foe-rink-us), Beak Snout, lived in the Early Jurassic. They were the most abundant and the largest pterosaur in Jurassic, and the first to have a global distribution. This animal was an analogue to the modern seagull. Skull variations and scrappy fossils have generated about 14 names (Dixon, 2006).
Rhamphorhynchus had a skull that was low and slender, with slit nasal openings and jaws tipped with boney prows that extended beyond the front of the jaw. The young started out snub-nosed and small-toothed, grew slender-skulled with longer teeth and jaws, and finally the adult form had a robust skull with tooth-like tusks. The front teeth pointed forward in a bristly, grasping apparatus able to catch fish with the jaws closed. It had a slight, compact torso covered in pycnofibers, also known pterosaur fuzz. The tail was long, thin, and ended in tail vanes like the tail of a kite, which could have added to the efficiency of the flight dynamics. The tail vane changed with age from a diamond oblong to a triangle, indicating it was a display device. The fifth toe supported an urppatagium, a membrane that extended between the hind legs (Witton, 2013).
WING LENGTH: 3 ft.
WEIGHT: 5 – 10 lbs.
Rhamphorhynchus preyed on fish and other marine creatures by skim-feeding fish from the water. It sprawled on four feet and was not proficient on the ground.
History of Discovery
Discovery, von Meyer - 1846, found first in the UK but the best fossils are from Germany. Abundant fossils with skeletons with examples soft tissue that includes beaks crests and brains are known. There are five growth stages few adult fossils.
Found in Europe in marine and near-marine environments. There were different ecological niches for each age cohort and as they grew they moved to a new niche.
Witton, M. (2013). Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy. Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Dixon, D. (2006). The Complete Book of Dinosaurs. London UK: Hermes House.
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