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STL Science Center
30 April 2016
The Kimmeridgian Boat Jaw
Senckenberg Museum of Frankfurt
The Kimmeridgian, often associated with the Solnhofen limestones of the Late Jurassic, is the area most often associated with high quality slab fossils of thin and small boned dinosaurs from Germany. Multiple specimens of a certain pterosaur, Scaphognathus crassirostris, have been recovered from this deposit. The generic name refers to the blunt boat-like appearance of the mandible whereas the specific epithet refers to the wideness of rostrum. Scaphognathus was an early pterosaur and was overall of diminutive size (skull = 4.5 inch, wingspan = 3 feet) with long needle-like teeth well adapted for grabbing insects on the fly. The teeth were well preserved in the skull of the holotype and, with additional specimens of the cranium as well, we know that there are 16 teeth in the upper jaw that overbite the mandible and that they are all vertically oriented. Fish catching early pterosaurs possessed diagonally and horizontally oriented sets of teeth. The holotype is a well preserved and articulated specimen that has not, like so many pterosaur fossils, been flattened thoroughly.