Rhamphorhynchus phyllurus

In 1873, a fine fossil of Rhamphorhynchus was found in the Solnhofen Shales.  This specimen was very quickly purchased by Othanial Charles Marsh, an American fossil hunter and palaeontologist, for one thousand US dollars and taken to the Yale Peabody Museum in the USA.

Marsh started work on the pterosaur in 1880 and his work was published in 1882. This work was a coup  for Marsh as it was recognised as the first pterosaur fossil to show the shape and structure of the wing membrane of a pterosaur.  It clearly showed the wing membranes and tail fin in this very finely preserved fossil. This specimen was originally named Rhamphorhynchus phyllurus by Marsh and casts of the specimen were produced to be sold world wide to National Museums and collectors.

In his reappraisal of the rhamphorhynchoid pterosaurs, Peter Wellnhofer renamed this specimen as Rhamphorhynchus muensteri based on gross skeletal features and similarities with other more recently discovered fossils which placed this pterosaur well within the natural variation range of the species.

Marsh O. C., 1882, The wings of Pterodactyles. Am. J. Sci. (3)23, 251–256 & pl. 3

Marsh O. C., 1882, The wings of Pterodactyles. Geol. Mag. Dec. 2, 9, 205–210

Marsh O. C., 1882, The wings of Pterodactyles.  Nature, Lond. 25, 531–533

Wellnhofer P., 1975, Die Rhamphorhynchoidea (Pterosauria) der Oberjura-Plattenkalke Süddeutschlands. Teil I. Allgemeine Skelletmorphologie. Paläontographica A 148 , 1–33.11 plates.

Wellnhofer P., 1975, Die Rhamphorhynchoidea (Pterosauria) der Oberjura-Plattenkalke Süddeutschlands. Teil II. Systematische beschreibung. Paläontographica A 148, 132–186.

Wellnhofer P., 1975, Die Rhamphorhynchoidea (Pterosauria) der Oberjura-Plattenkalke Süddeutschlands. Teil III. Palökologie und Stammesgeschichte. Paläontographica A 149, 1–30. 13 plates

Othanial Charles Marsh (1831-1899) was Professor of Paleontology at the Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, USA.  He was an avid collector of fossils and a major participant in "The Bone Wars", where he and Edward Drinker Cope competed to acquire as many fossil specimens as possible from the very fossil rich American mid west deposits.

 

 

1. The Background

2. 1873 - Rhamphorhynchus phyllurus

3. 1882 - The Zittel Wing

4. 1971 - Sordes pilosus

5. 1975 - The Vienna Specimen

6. 2002 - Jeholopterus

7. 2002 - The Dark Wing

8. Wing membrane structure

9. Examples of other specimens

 

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