STL Science Center

STL Science Center

05 May 2016

Not Too Popular

Scaphognathus is a popular small pterosaur, but it is not so popular that it is a household name or readily recognizable by many. The pterosaur appears in a number of places and is used as a base for models in games because of its fantastic fossilization. This does not translate to wide ranging popularity however. The popularity it does enjoy mostly comes from the Jurassic Park Facebook game and Jurassic World tablet game. The games include a somewhat odd interpretation of Scaphognathus showing it clambering up trees and gliding short distances only to fall slowly to the ground (see the video below at 1:35). Assuming Scaphognathus was not capable of powered flight and had to glide, this is correct; however, assuming its diet was considerably populated by small fish makes the short gliding distances unlikely to have benefited the animal. A diet of mostly insects, as briefly mentioned earlier in the week, could be obtained with short glides like this more readily than a diet of fish requiring longer gliding times. References to the slab fossil in books on pterosaurs and as an exemplar of the Solnhofen also appear in relation to the pterosaur; this is mentioned in passing typically as Archaeopteryx is more often lauded when the Solnhofen is discussed due to its notorious fame.

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