RhamphorhynchusThe Pterosaur Database 2007 Lithographic Limestone Rhamphorhynchus is well known from the flaggy limestone of Germany. Many fine specimens have been discovered in the quarries near the towns of Eichstadt and Solnhofen in Bavaria. This long tailed pterosaur lived in the Upper Jurassic era at the same time as the shorter tailed Pterodactylus
RhamphorhynchusThe Pterosaur Database 2007 Different types There are several different types of Rhamphorhynchus. The main fossils from this time are; Rh. longiceps Rh. intermedius Rh. gemmingi Rh. muensteri
RhamphorhynchusThe Pterosaur Database 2007 Specimens are identified by bone structure, especially from the skull. 1. Rh. muenstrei 2. Rh. longiceps 3. Rh. gemmingi
RhamphorhynchusThe Pterosaur Database 2007 The Rhamphorhynchus finds are mainly from the flaggy limestone up to and including the Mornsheim strata (Malm zeta3). They were the last of the long tailed pterosaurs and they did not survive to the end of the Upper Jurassic. Rhamphorhynchus had a broad sternum and powerful flight muscles. It would have been a very strong and skilled flyer. Evidence of fish scales and bones have been found in the stomach area of fossils, suggesting a primary diet of fish. It is probable that other small animals may also have been part of its diet.
RhamphorhynchusThe Pterosaur Database 2007 Zittel’s Wing was described in 1882. it is now in the Bayerisch Staatssammlung, München, Germany. This was the first evidence that pterosaurs had a wing membrane. Karl Zittel described the wing as swallow like. Cast NHM London
RhamphorhynchusThe Pterosaur Database 2007 The wings of rhamphorhynchus were smooth and developed around tough fibres, running from the wing finger to the edge of the membrane. A very good blood supply would have kept the wing tissues active. Flying would also have generated body heat, which could be lost at the wing surface. It is uncertain whether this pterosaur would have had body hair, but the animal was living in a warm environment where atmospheric oxygen was a little more concentrated that it is today, so body hair would probably not be needed.
RhamphorhynchusThe Pterosaur Database 2007 The vertebrae of Rhamphorhynchus were substantial, strong and very light, being filled with air spaces (pneumatic). The cervical (neck) vertebrae supported powerful muscles.
RhamphorhynchusThe Pterosaur Database 2007 Translated from Wellnhofer 1975 – “The Rhamphorhynchoidea (Pterosauria) of the Upper Jurassic Flaggy Limestone of Southern Germany – part 1 – General skeletal morphology”. page 14. 1.2 Axial Skeleton The single sections of the spinal column can be easily separated. The boundary between neck and body is marked by the first body vertebrae with ribs. The thoracic, lumbar, sacral and caudal sections are easily recognizable. All vertebrae are procoel. The Vertebrae of the single sections varies somewhat with exception of the neck, which consists invariably of 8 vertebrae. Usually 15 vertebrae form the body, which can however vary between 14 or 16. The first 11 or 12 have ribs attached. A larger variability is found in the lumbar region, where we find 3, 4 or 5 vertebrae. This variation is not dependent upon the number of the sacral vertebra. Of the observed sacra with definable segments, a two-thirds portion consists of 3 vertebrae and a third of 4 vertebrae. The sacral vertebral segment proportions seem to be independent of sex and type.
RhamphorhynchusThe Pterosaur Database 2007 Summary Rhamphorhynchus was at the peak of its evolutionary development. A swift and manoeuvrable flying animal, this was a successful predator. Powerful neck and jaws gave this pterosaur the ability to fish during flight. It is likely that insects may also have been on the menu, but it is clear that with no slicing teeth, Rhamphorhynchus would have to swallow its food whole. Though there is no evidence, it is likely that this species was an egg layer. Juveniles would need to be cared for to ensure that they grew big and strong enough to be capable of finding food.