These sea pterosaurs are called Rhamphorhynchus.
— Allen, describing Rhamphorhynchus

Rhamphorhynchus ("Beak Snout") was an iconic coast-dwelling pterosaur that lived in Late Jurassic Europe.



Rhamphorhynchus lived during the Middle to Late Jurassic Period from 164-145 million years ago, living on the beaches of the Jurassic.


Rhamphorhynchus was a small, long-tailed pterosaur. It had needle-like teeth for catching fish. They ranged from 3 to 5.5 feet in wingspan, roughly two meters in length; large for the long tailed Rhamphorhynchoids, but small compared with the much later giants of the Pterosaurs (the short tailed forms) of the Cretaceous Period, which in the case of Ornithocheirus and Quetzalcoatlus, could grow from 35 to beyond a 40 feet in wingspan. Rhamphorhynchus were nonetheless very capable fliers.


The role of Rhamphorhynchus during it time was like that of modern sea birds, like Seagulls, who live on sea coasts today: to clean the beach of carcases of dead animals. Additionally, Rhamphorhynchus could also live in large numbers, where dozens of them would be found on a beach.

Pterosaur head 2

Rhamphorhynchus fed mostly on fish, insects, and their larvae, but they also appeared to like horseshoe crab eggs. This modest-sized pterosaur was fairly wide-spread and successful.

Rhamphorhynchus also evolved a unique way of catching fish without getting their wing membranes wet. Their stream-like beaks skimmed through the water, grabbing anything in their path. The teeth of these flying reptiles may have looked bizarre, but they were ideal for snatching slippery fish through the water. However, swallowing their catch was a different matter.