STL Science Center

STL Science Center

27 March 2012

Important Papers in Recent Time

The farther back in time we go searching for papers the less likely we are to find a copy of any given paper online. I think we all know this. A rather large library or library network is the place to find really old papers in anthologies or microfiche (do libraries still carry that stuff?). At any rate, we have been lucky when it comes to Germanodactylus in the recent literature. In the past ten years two important papers were written by Dr. Chris Bennett which studied juvenile specimens and the soft tissue portions of the crest of Germanodactylus. The study of the juvenile Germanodactylus is important for a number of reasons. The first being that the erroneously assigned Solnhofen skeletons are now correctly assigned to the correct genus and species. The second reason is that the life stage development of any prehistoric species of critter is very important to our overall understanding of how the prehistoric world lived and functioned prior to the event of written observation in human beings. Third, this study explains a great deal about the development of the skull's crest and how it did not present itself in juveniles of the genus.

The second paper about soft tissue in the crest of Germanodactylus is very particular and specific in its focus, however, understanding and visualizing the soft tissue which is not preserved has always been an important and fundamental desire of almost every paleontologist and that makes this paper particularly important. The specimen, in the words of Dr. Bennett, is "a scrappy specimen" and is unprepared and basically appears as a slab in a wooden frame and it was someone's job to sort out the details, not the collector's. You can see some additional images of the specimen here including two UV photographs of the soft tissue area of the crest.

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