pterodactylus antiquus

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 And it was interesting sorting through all sorts of outdated paleoart for the more modern interpretations.

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.

Learn more in a video. 


What is a pterosaur? It sounds like such a simple question. But the answer, as you learn in the new exhibition Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs, was by no means obvious when the first pterosaur skeleton was discovered in the mid-1700s, in the Solnhofen limestone quarry in Germany.

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).

How closely related to dinosaurs are pterosaurs?