Pterodactylus is known from over 30 fossil specimens, and though most of those are juveniles, many preserve complete skeletons. Pterodactylus antiquus was a relatively small pterosaur, with an estimated adult wingspan of about 1.04 meters (3 feet 5 inches) (the only known adult specimen is represented by an isolated skull). Other “species” were once thought to be smaller. However, these smaller specimens have been shown to represent juveniles of Pterodactylus, as well as its contemporary relatives including Ctenochasma, Germanodactylus, Aerodactylus, Aurorazhdarcho, and Gnathosaurus.
The skulls of adult Pterodactylus were long and thin with about 90 narrow, conical teeth. The teeth extended back from the tips of both jaws, and became smaller farther away from the jaw tips (unlike some relatives, where teeth were absent in the upper jaw tip and were relatively uniform in size). The teeth extended farther back into the jaw than in close relatives, as some were present below the front of the nasoantorbital fenestra, the largest opening in the skull. Unlike related species, the skull and jaws were straight, not curved upwards.
Since I skipped Inktober I decided to try out something I saw on someone else’s blog: “Dinovember.”
Good excuse to draw dinosaurs. Sixth is Pterodactylus antiquus. Not to be confused with Pteranodon, Quetzalcoatlas, Rhamphorynchus, Tapejara, or any of the other pterosaurs that came up on a Google search when I was trying to find reference. At least half of those sketches are something else that I tweaked to make into pterodactyls…Oh, and pterodactylus antiquus was the first pterosaur discovered!
Basically I think it’s just supposed to be
one dino drawing a day, but I decided to do 10 skeletons and 10 with
skin/muscles (referenced from google images) and then one speedpaint.
Since I’m not intimately familiar with most dino anatomy the sketches
were a huge help for the final piece. And it was interesting sorting
through all sorts of outdated paleoart for the more modern
This fossil of a young Pterodactylus antiquus was found in the layers of limestone near Solnhofen, Germany, an area known for its rich fossil beds. Pterosaur bones rarely form fossils this clear and complete.
Pterosaur fossils are extremely rare because of the fragility of their skeletons, owing to their hollow bones.
Perhaps, early observers theorized, that specimen’s long skinny arm-and-finger bones were for swimming? Or was it some kind of toothed, clawed, winged bird? Or even a mammal? Debates raged, even after 1801, when the great French anatomist Georges Cuvier analyzed drawings of the skeleton and determined the animal to be something new to science: a flying reptile that Cuvier later named ptero-dactyle (wing finger in Greek).