Germanodactylus

Name: Germanodactylus (German finger).
Phonetic: Ger-man-oh-dack-ty-lus.
Named By: Yang - 1964.
Synonyms: Ornithocephalus rhamphastinus, Pterodactylus cristatus.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea, Dsungaripteroidea, Germanodactylidae.
Species: G. cristatus (type), G. rhamphastinus.
Type: Piscivore. Some consider Germanodactylus to have specialised in eating shellfish.
Size: Up to 1.08 meter wingspan.
Known locations: Germany. United Kingdom.
Time period: Kimmeridgian to Tithonian of the Jurassic.
Fossil representation: 6 specimens.

       The pterosaur Germanodactylus spent the early years of its classification as a specimen of Pterodactylus kocki. However in 1964, Yang Zhongjian noted several differences, and created the Germanodactylus genus. The second species of Germanodactylus, G. rhamphastinus, was actually discovered back in1858, although this time the specimen was referred to Ornithcephalus, a genus that is no longer considered valid with all fossils once attributed to it found to actually belong to other genera. G. rhamphastinus has a larger crest, and slightly more teeth than G. cristatus, with thirty-two in the upper jaw (twenty-six in G. cristatus) and thirty in the lower jaw (twenty-four in G. cristatus). The teeth of G. rhamphastinus also extend to the tip of the jaw, where as they are absent from the tip of the jaw of G.cristatus.
       Possibly the main feature of interest to researchers of Germanodactylus is the head crest. Although quite unremarkable compared to some other pterosaurs like Nyctosaurus or Tupandactylus, it is a good example of the early forms that seem to be more common to the more advanced pterodactyloid pterosaurs. The crest itself is best known from the bony growth that rises from the top of its skull. In 2002, S. Cristopher Bennet realised that this growth was merely the base for a much larger crest that was made from soft tissue. By having a crest made of soft tissue, probably keratin, Germanodactylus may have had a crest that actively changed colour to be more vivid during the breeding season.

Further reading
-Soft tissue preservation of the cranial crest of the pterosaur Germanodactylus from Solnhofen. - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 22 (1): 43–48. - S. Christopher Bennet - 2002.
- Juvenile specimens of the pterosaur Germanodactylus cristatus, with a revision of the genus. - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26 (4): 872–878. - S. Christopher Bennet - 2006.



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