|“||These sea pterosaurs are called Rhamphorhynchus.||„|
|— Allen, describing Rhamphorhynchus|
Rhamphorhynchus (name meaning "Beak Snout") is a genus of iconic coast-dwelling pterosaur that originated in Middle to Late Jurassic in what is now Europe.
Era & DiscoveryEdit
Rhamphorhynchus lived during the Middle to Late Jurassic Period from 164–145 million years ago, living on the beaches of the Jurassic. Rhamphorhynchus was brought to the attention of Samuel Thomas von Soemmerring by the collector Georg Graf zu Münster in 1825.
Rhamphorhynchus was a small, long-tailed pterosaur. It had needle-like teeth for catching fish. They ranged from 3–5.5 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 40–43 feet wide in wingspan. Despite their small-size, Rhamphorhynchus were nonetheless very capable fliers.
Behavior & TraitsEdit
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, even hundreds of them, would be found on a beach.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.