|Cast of the holotype specimen|
The Scaphognathus is known from three specimens, all of which originated in the Kimmeridgian-age Solnhofen Limestone. Physically it was very similar to Rhamphorhynchus, albeit with notable cranial differences.
For one, Scaphognathus had a proportionately shorter skull (4.5 in) with a blunter tip and a larger antorbital fenestra. Its teeth oriented vertically rather than horizontally. The traditional count of them held that eighteen teeth were in the upper jaws and ten in the lower. S. Christopher Bennett, studying a new third specimen, SMNS 59395, in 2004 determined there were only sixteen teeth in the upper jaws, the higher previous number having been caused by incorrectly adding replacement teeth.
Comparisons between the scleral rings of Scaphognathus and modern birds and reptiles suggest that it may have been diurnal. This may also indicate niche partitioning with contemporary pterosaurs inferred to be nocturnal, such as Ctenochasma and Rhamphorhynchus.
The first known Scaphognathus specimen was described in 1831 by August Goldfuss who mistook the tailless specimen for a new Pterodactylus species: P. crassirostris. The specific name means "fat snout" in Latin. This specimen was an incomplete adult with a 0.9 m (3 ft) wingspan recovered from the Solnhofen strata near Eichstätt. In 1858 Johann Wagner referred the species to Rhamphorhynchus. After recognising the fundamentally different snout shape, Wagner, after previous failed attempts by Leopold Fitzinger and Christoph Gottfried Andreas Giebel, who used preoccupied names, in 1861 named a distinct genus: Scaphognathus, derived from Greek skaphe, "boat" or "tub", and gnathos, "jaw", in reference to the blunt shape of the lower jaws.
In the early twentieth century, the "rhamphorhynchoid" nature of S. crassirostris was recognized after the discovery of the second specimen in Mühlheim, whose long tail was preserved. The second Scaphognathus specimen was more complete than its predecessor, but only half the size (twenty inch wingspan) and with partially ossified bones. These characters indicate that the second specimen was a juvenile.
Paleontology or palaeontology is the study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils. This includes the study of body fossils, tracks (ichnites), burrows, cast-off parts, fossilised feces (coprolites), palynomorphs and chemical residues. Because humans have encountered fossils for millennia, paleontology has a long history both before and after becoming formalized as a science. This article records significant discoveries and events related to paleontology that occurred or were published in the year 1861.Allkaruen
Allkaruen (meaning "ancient brain") is a genus of rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur from the Early-to-Middle Jurassic Cañadon Asfalto Formation in Argentina. It contains a single species, A. koi.Anchisauria
The Anchisauria were a clade of sauropodomorph dinosaurs that lived during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. The name Anchisauria was first used by Galton and Upchurch in the second edition of The Dinosauria. Galton and Upchurch assigned two families of dinosaurs to the Anchisauria: the Anchisauridae and the Melanorosauridae. The more common prosauropods Plateosaurus and Massospondylus were placed in the sister clade Plateosauria.
However, recent research indicates that Anchisaurus is closer to sauropods than traditional prosauropods; thus, Anchisauria would also include Sauropoda.The following cladogram simplified after an analysis presented by Blair McPhee and colleagues in 2014.Averostra
Averostra, or "bird snouts", is a clade that includes most theropod dinosaurs that have a promaxillary fenestra (fenestra promaxillaris), an extra opening in the front outer side of the maxilla, the bone that makes up the upper jaw. Two groups of averostrans, the Ceratosauria and the Orionides, survived into the Cretaceous period. When the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event occurred, ceratosaurians and two groups of orionideans within the clade Coelurosauria, the Tyrannosauroidea and Maniraptoriformes, were still extant. Only one subgroup of maniraptoriformes, Aves, survived the extinction event and persisted to the present day.Avetheropoda
Avetheropoda, or "bird theropods", is a clade that includes carnosaurians and coelurosaurs to the exclusion of other dinosaurs.Caelestiventus
Caelestiventus ( sə-LES-tih-VEN-təs, meaning "heavenly wind") is a pterosaur genus from the Late Triassic (Norian or Rhaetian) found in western North America. The type species, Caelestiventus hanseni, honors Robin Hansen, the Bureau of Land Management geologist (BLM), who facilitated access to the excavation site.
Caelestiventus is important because it is the sole example of a desert-dwelling non-pterodactyloid pterosaur and is 65 million years older than other known desert-dwelling pterosaurs. Additionally, it shows that even the earliest pterosaurs were morphologically and ecologically diverse and that the Dimorphodontidae originated in the Triassic Period.Cerapoda
Cerapoda ("ceratopsians and ornithopods") is a clade of the dinosaur order Ornithischia.Dinosauriformes
Dinosauriformes is a clade of archosaurian reptiles that include the dinosaurs and their most immediate relatives. All dinosauriformes are distinguished by several features, such as shortened forelimbs and a partially to fully perforated acetabulum, the hole in the hip socket traditionally used to define dinosaurs. The oldest known member is Asilisaurus, dating to about 245 million years ago in the Anisian age of the middle Triassic period.Fenghuangopterus
Fenghuangopterus is a genus of basal pterosaur that lived in northeastern China during the Middle Jurassic.
The type species Fenghuangopterus lii was in 2010 described and named by Lü Junchang et al. The generic name is derived from the Fenghuang Mountain and a Latinised Ancient Greek pteron, "wing". The specific name honours Li Xiumei, who donated the fossil. It is known from a single relatively complete, though badly crushed, fossil skeleton, holotype CYGB-0037, recovered from the Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning Province, about 160 million years old. It is a member of the rhamphorhynchid subfamily Scaphognathinae, which had previously been known only from the Late Jurassic and includes the close relatives Scaphognathus, Sordes and Harpactognathus.Harpactognathus
Harpactognathus (meaning "seizing/grasping jaw") was a genus of pterosaur found in the Late Jurassic-age Morrison Formation of Albany County, Wyoming, United States. It is based on NAMAL 101, a partial skull consisting of the snout, recovered from near Bone Cabin Quarry in 1996. The species name honors the discoverer, Joe Gentry, a volunteer for the Western Paleontological Laboratories, in Lehi, Utah.Its describers found it to be most similar to Scaphognathus among pterosaurs, albeit substantially larger (estimated skull length of 280–300 mm (11–12 in), estimated wingspan of at least 2.5 m (8.2 ft)). Because of the similarity, Harpactognathus was assigned to the subfamily Scaphognathinae of the family Rhamphorhynchidae. This genus is also notable for having a low bony crest running all the way to the tip of the beak (pterosaur bone crests usually do not reach the tip) and for being the oldest known Morrison Formation pterosaur, having been found in the Salt Wash Member (Kimmeridgian).Jianchangnathus
Jianchangnathus is an extinct genus of basal pterosaur from the Middle Jurassic Tiaojishan Formation of northeastern China.Jingshanosaurus
Jingshanosaurus (meaning "Jingshan lizard") is a genus of sauropodomorph dinosaurs from the early Jurassic period.Neotheropoda
Neotheropoda (meaning "new theropods") is a clade that includes coelophysoids and more advanced theropod dinosaurs, and the only group of theropods who survived the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Yet all of the neotheropods became extinct during the early Jurassic period except for Averostra.Orionides
Orionides is a clade of tetanuran theropod dinosaurs from the Middle Jurassic to the Present. The clade includes most theropod dinosaurs, including birds.Orodrominae
Orodrominae is a subfamily of parksosaurid dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of North America and Asia.Ostromia
Ostromia is a genus of anchiornithid theropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic Painten Formation of Germany. The genus contains a single species, O. crassipes, named by Christian Foth and Oliver Rauhut in 2017.Parapsicephalus
Parapsicephalus (meaning "beside arch head") is a genus of long-tailed rhamphorhynchid pterosaurs from the Lower Jurassic Whitby, Yorkshire, England. It contains a single species, P. purdoni, named initially as a species of the related rhamphorhynchid Scaphognathus in 1888 but moved to its own genus in 1919 on account of a unique combination of characteristics. In particular, the top surface of the skull of Parapsicephalus is convex, which is otherwise only seen in dimorphodontians. This has been the basis of its referral to the Dimorphodontia by some researchers, but it is generally agreed upon that Parapsicephalus probably represents a rhamphorhynchid. Within the Rhamphorhynchidae, Parapsicephalus has been synonymized with the roughly contemporary Dorygnathus; this, however, is not likely given a large number of differences between the two taxa, including the aforementioned convex top surface of the skull. Parapsicephalus has been tentatively referred to the Rhamphorhynchinae subgrouping of rhamphorhynchids, but it may represent a basal member of the group instead.Rhamphorhynchidae
Rhamphorhynchidae is a group of early "rhamphorhynchoid" pterosaurs named after Rhamphorhynchus, that lived in the Late Jurassic. The family Rhamphorhynchidae was named in 1870 by Harry Govier Seeley.Xixiposaurus
Xixiposaurus is a genus of prosauropod dinosaur which existed in what is now Lower Lufeng Formation, China during the lower Jurassic period. It was first named by Sekiya Toru in 2010 and the type species is Xixiposaurus suni.