STL Science Center

STL Science Center

06 May 2016

Changing Face of Pterosaurs

Albert Gaudry
The understanding of pterosaurs has come a long way and also foundered in many ways throughout history. Generally speaking the original impression of pterosaurs was one of bat-like morphology as bats and birds were the only vertebrates known to naturalists that first described and discussed pterosaur biology. Scaphognathus appears in many older texts as a bat-like pterosaur with odd looking petagium like elements stretched between the body and wrists/ankles. There may have been some skin elements between these structures and arguments have been fiercely made for the ankle to tail connection in particular. These connections are not necessarily incorrect and there may be some evidence in other pterosaurs for the structures; I actually have seen no such evidence as yet in Scaphognathus but would certainly not rule out the possibility. There are, additionally, many hypotheses of the purpose of these structures in pterosaurs. We do not need to get into those hypotheses at this moment.

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