It’s a long weekend, and we’re out of here! 

Are you in the city this holiday weekend? Don’t let the rain get you down, there’s so much to see and discover at the Museum, from special exhibitions to our iconic permanent halls. 

Here are some highlights from the past week:

Have a great weekend!

The keel Jaw, Tropeognathus (1987)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Pterosauria
Family : Ornithocheiridae
Genus : Tropeognathus
Species : T. mesembrinus, T. robustus

  • Early Cretaceous (112 - 108 Ma)
  • 8 m wingspan and 30 kg (size)
  • Santana formation, Brazil (map)

Pterosaurs tend to be represented in the fossil record by frustratingly incomplete and scattered specimens, so it can take a long time for paleontologists to nail down the true identity of any given species. A case in point is Tropeognathus, which had variously been classified as a separate species of Ornithocheirus and Anhanguera before reverting to its original genus name in 2000. Tropeognathus was distinguished by the keel-like structure on the end of its beak, an adaptation that allowed it to hold tight to wriggling fish, and with a wingspan of 20 to 25 feet it was one of the largest pterosaurs of the early to middle Cretaceous period. This once-obscure flying reptile was made famous by a starring role in the BBC TV series Walking with Dinosaurs, though the producers vastly inflated its specs, depicting it with a wingspan of almost 40 feet!

The Araripe Basin is in a remote, sparsely populated region of northeastern Brazil. Arid and beautiful, the area is poor for farming, but rich in fossils. More than three decades ago, a local there found some large pterosaur bones, and years later paleontologist Alexander Kellner, a research associate at the Museum, had the chance to examine them. The specimen described was Tropeognathus mesembrinus. With a wingspan of nearly 27 feet, it was the the largest pterosaur discovered so far in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Read more about this discovery. 

“Keel jaw”
Late Cretaceous, 112-108 million years ago

This South American pterosaur had a wingspan of upto 27 feet! Its upper and lower jaws ended in unique “keels” that, when closed, formed an elegant, disc-like crest along its snout. When open, they revealed rows of needle-like teeth, useful for catching fish and reducing once-peaceful dreams to a nightmarish hell of leather-winged oblivion. Shrieking cries. Tattered flesh. No more sleep. The darkness brings the devourers. And their hunger can never be filled.