Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Dimorphodon macronyx

Probably one of the most well known pterosaurs after Pteranodon et al, Dimorphodon was a genus of medium-sized pterosaur known from England and described by Richard Owen in 1859. The name Dimorphodon means ‘two-form tooth’ in reference to the two distinct types of teeth in its jaws. Mary Anning one of the earliest and most noted fossil collectors discovered the first specimen of Dimorphodon in 1828 from the Blue Lias formation within the Hettangian/Sinemurian Stages of the Lower Jurassic rocks of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England.

The two types of teeth implied in the name are present in each jaw, a set of 30-40 small pointed teeth with four larger teeth at the front. The wingspan of Dimorphodon was around 1.2-2.5 metres (4-8 ft), it had a large bulky skull 22 centimetres in length and the tail consisted of thirty vertebrae, the latter vertebrae were stiffened by elongated vertebral processes. Much debate on how Dimorphodon may have stood/walked (when it wasn’t flying) has led to several ideas proposed, whether it was quadrupedal or bipedal. It probably inhabited coastlines hunting for fish in the oceans.


Name
Dimorphodon macronyx
Authority
(Buckland, 1829)
Meaning of generic name
Two-formed tooth
Meaning of specific name
Big Claw
Size
Wingspan: 1.2 m, Length: 1 m, Skull: 21.5 cm
Remains
Several specimens all disarticulated and crushed
Age and Distribution
Lyme Regis region, Dorset and Gloucestershire, England, UK
Classification
Pterosauria Dimorphodontidae
Further Reading
Owen, R. (1859). "On a new genus (Dimorphodon) of pterodactyle, with remarks on the geological distribution of flying reptiles." Rep. Br. Ass. Advmnt Sci., 28 (1858): 97–103.
Synonyms
Pterodactylus macronyx Buckland, 1829, Pterodactylus marderi Owen, 1874 [nomen dubium], Dimorphodon weintraubi Clark, Hopson, Hern√°ndez, Fastovsky & Montellano, 1998

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