Rhamphorynchus (Wild Safari)

Like a draconic seagull, Rhamphorynchus could be seen swooping around the coastlines of Europe 150 million years ago, catching fish and insects with its snaggly teeth. It’s particularly well-known from the Solnhofen Limestone of Germany, where fossils preserve even the soft membranes on the wings and tail. Despite being so distinctive, Rhamphorynchus doesn’t turn up too often as a toy. Fortunately, Safari gave us a beautiful rendition in 2010.

Posed with its wings open, it’s easy to imagine this Rhamphorynchus gliding above some Jurassic beach. The brown and red colours are quite attractive, with the cream underside washed with brown to bring out the sculpted detail. There’s also a gloss applied to the eyes, making them look alive in certain lights.

As far as accuracy to the actual animal goes, it’s mostly good, with everything in the correct (albeit odd) proportions for this pterosaur. Unlike the majority of reconstructions, this toy has the wing membranes connect to the back, rather than the ankles. There’s been a lot of different reconstructions of pterosaur wing membranes, but unlike most of them Rhamphorynchus is known from many fossils that preserve impressions of the membranes, which show that they connected to the legs. Additionally, it is now known that Rhamphorynchus’ distinctive diamond tail vane was actually found only in younger individuals, as it transformed into a triangular shape in the adults. So this toy could represent a young pterosaur, though it still has the inaccurate legs. Also, for whatever reason, it’s sculpted without the covering of fur-like pycnofibres that were present in nearly all pterosaurs (and thus almost certainly in Rhamphorynchus). Other Wild Safari pterosaurs have this, even their earliest ones like their Quetzalcoatlus. Why this Rhamphorhynchus is missing pycnofibres is a mystery.

Regardless, Safari’s Rhamphorynchus is still an excellent model. While it’s not like you have much choice if you want a plastic version of this pterosaur, at least the most easily available one is top quality!