Read the story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
Story Views
Last hour:
Last 24 hours:

The one and only pterosaur skeleton at Washington University

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

The Earth and Planetary (formerly Geology) Department at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA is famous for seismology, planetary chemistry and Mars rovers. Paleontology used to be a big deal, but with the retirement of Dr. Hal Levin, not so much anymore. Dinosaur hunter Joshua Smith was here for a short time, but that fizzled. Wash U still has a great geology library where I recently came to know Kaikaifilusaurus and Herbstosaurus in the stacks.

The Wash U collection consists of some spectacular specimens of Mastodon, crinoids, ichthyosaurs and a really big Pliocene croc, all the latter from Europe. There are some Solnhofen fish and one lonely, roadkill pterosaur, correctly labeled, Rhamphorhynchus phyllurus (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Click to enlarge. Color enhanced stitched photo (taken with IPhone) of the one and only pterosaur fossil (WU970001) at Washington University in St. Louis. Note the damaged wing tip at left. Only a few skull parts are here, but strangely, no sacrum, pelvis or prepubis is present, although the hind limbs were left behind.

Just an ordinary Rhamphorhynchus with an “ouchee”
WU 970001 is a fairly typical Rhamphorhynchus. It has several distinct features, so is not identical to any Rhamph already tested. And it has a bent wing tip.

Figure 2. Click to enlarge. Sometimes it helps to reconstruct roadkill fossils like the Washington University Rhamphorhynchus WU 970001.

Figure 3. Segment of the large pterosaur tree focusing on Rhamphorhynchus.

The Wash U specimen nests with the famous Yale specimen (n33), but lacks wing membrane preservation. Strangely, the pelvis and prepubes are missing. The skull is also largely gone.

One wing tip is strongly bent, likely broken and rehealed under the stress of the wing membrane. The wings were quite long. The sternal complex was quite large. The humerus and hind limbs were rather small. The pes has a unique combination of phalangeal ratios in the pattern of its closest kin, but matching none of them.

Like other Rhamphs, this one appears to have been a very able flyer, with large anchors for wing muscles and long wing phalanges, including the m4.4, which was slightly longer than m4.3.

Forelimb launch?
Seems unlikely that such a small humerus could launch this specimen high enough to bring those big wing fingers cycling around. Better, perhaps, to stand bipedally and launch like a bird using a combination of a hind limb leap and large flapping wings.

So how does a specimen lose its pelvis and sacrum?
I have no idea.


Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Please Help Support BeforeitsNews by trying our Natural Health Products below!

Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Order by Phone at 888-388-7003 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Order by Phone at 888-388-7003 or online at M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Humic & Fulvic Trace Minerals Complex - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!

HNEX HydroNano EXtracellular Water - Improve immune system health and reduce inflammation

Ultimate Clinical Potency Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.

MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)
Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen! 
Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.
Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%!  (See Video)

Report abuse


    Your Comments
    Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

    Load more ...




    Email this story
    Email this story

    If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

    If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.