Rhamphorhynchus

RhamphorhynchusRhamphorhynchus — Rhamphorhynchus was a long-tailed pterosaur of the Jurassic period. Its name means ’beak snout’. Only 17.5 cm (7 in) long but with a wingspan of 100 cm (3 ft), it was less specialized than the later pterodactyloids. It had a long tail stiffened with ligaments which ended in a diamond-shaped vane.

Rhamphorhynchus ate fish, frogs,and insects and it is believed that one of the ways it hunted was by dragging its beak in the water, catching fish and tossing them into its throat pouch, a structure similar to that of pelicans, which has been preserved in some fossils. This method of catching fish is found today in skimmers.

Rhamphorhynchus laid eggs instead of giving birth to its young. It belongs to the Suborder Rhamphorhynchoidea.

Rhamphorhynchus fossils have been recovered from Jurassic marine clays in southern England but the finest specimens come from the Solnhofen quarry in Bavaria, southern Germany. The fine-grained limestone of this famous quarry has yielded numerous beautifully preserved remains of Rhamphorhynchus. Many of these fossils not only preserve the bones but also show impressions of soft tissues such as the wings and tail.

Rhamphorhnchus was a primitive type of flying reptile with wings up to 1 metre long. These were made of skin stretched between an elongated finger from its hand, down to its ankle.

It had a long straight tail (20 cm) stiffened with ligaments which ended in a diamond-shaped rudder. It is believed that one of the ways Rhamphorhnchus hunted was by dragging its beak in the water . When it came into contact with prey, it would snap its needle-sharp teeth shut, and toss the food into it’s throat pouch, a structure that has actually been preserved in some rare fossils.

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