Name: Ornithodesmus ‭(‬Bird link‭)‬.
Phonetic: Or-nif-o-des-muss.
Named By: Harry Govier Seeley‭ ‬-‭ ‬1887.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria‭ ‬,Saurischia,‭ ‬Theropoda,‭ ‬Dromaeosauridae.
Species: O.‭ ‬cluniculus‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: Uncertain due to lack of fossils,‭ ‬but comparison to related genera suggests that Ornithodesmus grew to roughly about‭ ‬1.8‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: England‭ ‬-‭ ‬Wessex Formation.
Time period: Early Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Sacral vertebrae.

       The story of Ornithodesmus can be a confusing one as for a long time the genus was credited with being a pterosaur,‭ ‬whereas we now know this was a mistake.‭ ‬It all began in‭ ‬1887‭ ‬when Harry Govier Seeley described a set of six sacral vertebrae that he thought belonged to a bird.‭ ‬Seeley came up with the name Ornithodesmus which means‭ (‬bird link‭)‬.‭ ‬Then later in‭ ‬1887‭ ‬John Hulke‭ (‬in a paper without his name on it‭) ‬made the suggestion that Ornithodesmus was not a bird but actually a pterosaur.‭ ‬Seeley later conceded this and he too began to classify Ornithodesmus as a pterosaur,‭ ‬even creating a second species O.‭ ‬latidens in‭ ‬1901.‭ ‬Seeley however still thought the original holotype specimen of Ornithodesmus was very bird like,‭ ‬and so began to propose the notion that birds and pterosaurs shared a common ancestry‭ (‬something we now consider to simply not be true‭)‬.
       The second species of Ornithodesmus was based upon far more complete pterosaur remains,‭ ‬and for this reason O.‭ ‬latidens was the public face presented to the wider public.‭ ‬Then in‭ ‬1993‭ ‬a startling discovery was made concerning the holotype specimen.‭ ‬In a‭ ‬1993‭ ‬study concerning the original sacral vertebrae that had been used to establish the type species in‭ ‬1887,‭ ‬Stafford C.‭ ‬Howse and Andrew Milner concluded that the holotype was not a bird nor even a pterosaur,‭ ‬but actually a theropod dinosaur.‭ ‬Howse and Milner considered the holotype to have come from a small troodontid,‭ ‬but later research by Peter Makovicky and Mark Norell showed that it was actually a dromaeosaurid,‭ ‬and while others have speculated that this specimen may have actually been a ceratosaur or coelophysid,‭ ‬most palaeontologists now agree that the holotype specimen of Ornithodesmus was a dromaeosaur.
       Because the holotype specimen of Ornithodesmus is now confirmed as a dromaeosaurid dinosaur,‭ ‬all of the pterosaur fossils once attributed to the genus,‭ ‬including the second species have now been had a new genus created for them called Istiodactylus.‭ ‬Details about the lifestyle of Ornithodesmus are uncertain due to the lack of fossil remains for the genus,‭ ‬but we do know that as a dromaeosaurid dinosaur Ornithodesmus would have been a lightly built predator of small animals,‭ ‬featuring a sickle shaped killing claw on the second toe of each foot.‭ ‬Comparison to the body proportions of other dromaeosaurid dinosaurs indicates that Ornithodesmus would have grown to just under two meters in length.

Further reading
-‭ ‬On a sacrum,‭ ‬apparently indicating a new type of Bird,‭ ‬Ornithodesmus cluniculus,‭ ‬Seeley,‭ ‬from the Wealden of Brook.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London,‭ ‬42:‭ ‬206-211.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Harry Govier Seeley‭ ‬-‭ ‬1887.
-‭ ‬Discussion‭ (‬on Ornithodesmus and Patricosaurus‭)‬.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London,‭ ‬43:‭ ‬219-220.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Anon‭ ‬-‭ ‬1887.
-‭ ‬Dragons of the Air.‭ ‬-‭ ‬London:‭ ‬Methuen‭ & ‬Co.‭ ‬239‭ ‬pp.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Harry Govier Seeley‭ ‬-‭ ‬1901.
-‭ ‬The skeleton of Ornithodesmus latidens‭; ‬an Ornithosaur from the Wealden Shales of Atherfield‭ (‬Isle of Wight‭)‬.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society,‭ ‬69‭(‬1-4‭)‬:‭ ‬372-422.‭ ‬-‭ ‬R.‭ ‬W.‭ ‬Hooley‭ ‬-‭ ‬1913.
-‭ ‬Ornithodesmus—a maniraptoran theropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of the Isle of Wight,‭ ‬England.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Palaeontology,‭ ‬36:‭ ‬425‭–‬437.‭ ‬-‭ ‬S.‭ ‬C.‭ ‬B.‭ ‬Howse‭ & ‬A.‭ ‬R.‭ ‬Milner‭ ‬-‭ ‬1993.
-‭ ‬Important features of the dromaeosaur skeleton:‭ ‬Information from a new specimen.‭ ‬-‭ ‬American Museum Novitates,‭ ‬3215:‭ ‬1-28.‭ ‬-‭ ‬M.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Norell‭ & ‬P.‭ ‬Makovicky‭ ‬-‭ ‬1997.
-‭ ‬Saurischian dinosaurs:‭ ‬theropods,‭ ‬by D.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Martill,‭ ‬D.‭ ‬Hutt‭ & ‬D.‭ ‬Naish.‭ ‬In Dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight.‭ ‬The Palaeontological Association,‭ ‬Field Guides to Fossils.‭ ‬10,‭ ‬242-309,‭ ‬D.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Martill‭ & ‬D.‭ ‬Naish‭ (‬eds‭) ‬-2001.
-‭ ‬Dinosaurs of Great Britain and the role of the Geological Society of London in their discovery:‭ ‬basal Dinosauria and Saurischia.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Journal of the Geological Society,‭ ‬London,‭ ‬164‭(‬3‭)‬:‭ ‬493-510.‭ ‬-‭ ‬D.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Martill‭ & ‬D.‭ ‬Naish‭ ‬-‭ ‬2007.


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