Full Details for Lot 312

     

Sale NH1305 Lot 312

RARE AND SUPERB "FLYING DINOSAUR"
Rhamphorhynchus muensteri
Upper Jurassic, Tithonian Stage
Solnhofen, Bavaria, Germany

The Pterosaurs, like the Ichthyosaurs and Mososaur, are not in fact true dinosaurs, but belonged to the contemporaneous clade Ornithodira. Pterosaurs ("winged lizard") or pterodactyls ("winged finger") as they are often known, flourished during the Upper Jurassic period and represent the first vertebrates to make the transformation to flight; their hollow bones and light-weight bodies made them well adapted to life in the air, although from tracks found in the fossil record it is also apparent that they could walk on all fours when necessary. Further distinguishing them from the dinosaurs, they were warm-blooded, and many species even had a coating of special hair, known as pycnofibers, not unlike modern-day bats. The Rhamphorhynchus is best known from the famous lithographic limestone quarries of the Konservat-Lagerstätt beds at Solnhofen in Bavaria. Its name means "beak snout" (perfectly illustrated on this example) and it is believed that it caught its food by dragging the beak in the water and scooping up fish, frogs and insects into a throat pouch, much like that of a pelican. The present specimen probably died, millions of years ago, due to strong winds over the Solnhofen lagoons, an archipelago on the edge of the Tethys Sea, which would have prevented it from returning to the shore despite its comparatively enormous wingspan and useful tail vane. The soft carbonate mud that would immediately have covered it allowed for its preservation in such fine detail, with perfect definition to the long slender tail and large spreading wings. The incredibly fragile bones are preserved with remarkable three-dimensionality, with slender finger bones, ribs, and even the tiny teeth perfectly visible. Measuring approximately 19 x 13 inches, the specimen is patterned with an evocative dark gray dendritic mottling to the wings, set in a limestone slab from the same quarry, approximately 34 1/4 x 27 inches, attractively bordered all around by the beautiful fern-like patterning of further dendrites. This is a fossil of the highest quality, rarity and aesthetic appeal, presented on an ebonized metal display stand.
Estimate $70,000-80,000

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