Rhamphorynchus muensteri, Pterosaur, Jurassic
Rhamphorynchus muensteri, Pterosaur, Jurassic
Rhamphorynchus muensteri, Pterosaur, Jurassic
Rhamphorynchus muensteri, Pterosaur, Jurassic
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Rhamphorynchus muensteri, Pterosaur, Jurassic

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Rhamphorynchus (meaning "beak snout") belonged to a genus of long tailed pterosaurs which lived during the Late Jursssic Period (160-140 mya). Its long tail was stiffened with ligaments and ended in a diamond-shaped vane that was characteristic to Rhamphorhynchus. Their jaws contained needle-like teeth that angled forward. The curved, sharp beak-like tip (which lacked teeth) indicates that its diet was mainly fish and cephalopods. Remains of both are frequently found in the stomach contents. Fragmentary remains of Rhamphorynchus have been found in England, Portugal, Spain, and Tangeria. The best specimens are found in the Solnhofen limestone beds of Bavaria, Germany. Not only bones are found there, but also impressions of soft tissues (wing membranes).

The first specimen of Rhamphorynchus was named by collector Georg Graf zu Munster, in 1825, Ornithocephalus. It was originally considered to be a species of Pterodactylus. It was first described by Georg August Goldfuss, in 1831, and given the name Ornithocephalus Munsteri. That name would later be amended by Richard Lydekker, in 1888, Ornithocephalus muensteri, since non-standard Latin alphabet characters didn't allow for a u with 2 dots over it, in scientific names. In 1845 the original species Ornithocephalus munsteri was changed to Pterodactylus munsteri, by Hermann Von Meyer. Two years later, in 1847, it was elevated to the full fledged genus of Rhamphorhynchus, by Von Meyer.

An interesting side note about Rhamphorynchus that also related to all fossils: the original fossil which describes a new species is called a holotype. The original specimen of Rhamphorynchus was lost during World War II. If a new specimen is found or the original specimen is deemed to be of poor quality, the new specimen is called a neotype. If however a copy of the original is still available a neotype is deemed not necessary and the copy is called a plastotype. Fortunately, in this case, Rhamphorynchus had a good copy available and you now have a copy made from the original copy (plastotype).

Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Sauropsida, Order: Pterosauria, Family: Ramphorynchidae, Sub-Family: Rhamphorhynchinae, Genus: Rhamphorhynchus, Species: muensteri.

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