Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Biddulph Grange Gardens Pterosaur

On a recent visit to Biddulph Grange Gardens I was looking at the progress in the geology gallery when I spotted a pterosaur skull on a cast of a lithographic limestone slab.  This was a pterosaur fossil that I had not been aware of.  After contacting the grange, I was put in touch with Daniel Atherton, who is part of the restoration project responsible for the refurbishment of the Geological Gallery.  I was invited to inspect the original slab which was recorded as a fish fossil due to the presence of a number of fish remains visible.
Amongst the fish jaws was an unmistakable skull of Pterodactylus antiquus, with a few associate post cranial bones.
The skull and one half of the mandible are associated with a wing metacarpal, coracoid and humerus. The end of the premaxilla has become dislodges and most of the teeth are separated from the jaw.  The posterior skull is also broken and part of the basal skull is displaced to another part of the slab with the cervical spine.
On the edge of the slab is what appears to be a wing bone association.  On original inspection I glossed over this part of the slab.  On closer examination, this represents the cervical spine and basal skull, with a scapula at one end and the other side of the mandible at the other.  Two fish bones are seen to line up with this associated group of pterosaur bones to give the impression of a pterosaur wing.
The fossil is stored away from the public, but a cast of this slab can be seen in the Geology Gallery at Biddulph Grange Gardens, Staffordshire.
This fossil was collected in Victorian times, but there is no record of the source.  It has only recently been found to contain pterosaur material.  More information will follow as it becomes available.

Checzh language translation


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Dinosaur Plate

I recently found this plate at the Emma Bridgewater factory shop in Stoke-on-Trent, UK.  It has been decorated using a sponge print method by hand, showing a sauropod dinosaur surrounded by 8 pterosaurs.  On the back rim can be seen a circle of brown trilobites.
This appears to be a one off design as it has not appeared on the factory stock sheets.  There is a decorating studio on the factory premises where children and adults can pay a small fee for the opportunity to decorate their own pottery.  This may be an uncollected piece which has been sold in store.  It may also be a demonstration plate used by staff at the studio.
Apart from the source and the label on the back, I have no other information on this pottery piece.  Having done an Internet search, it is clear that there is a lot of dinosaur and pterosaur stuff out there.  It is quite fun to see what is available.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Jurassic Kites

This summer I found a kite design by a company called Jurassic Kites.  Having sent for one, just for fun, I had go.  The design was developed by Sibyl King and it is manufactured by Peterkin UK Ltd.

 The kite comes neatly folded in a thin sleeve and is ready harnessed, just needing two pins fixing to brace the wings and a line (supplied)  attaching to the harness loop.
 Then its up to the top of a windy Knoll - in this case the hills under Thorpe Cloud at Ilam, Derbyshire, UK - Then up it goes.
 The first attempt was in low gusty winds and the kite was easily stalled.  It took some skill to keep it airborne.  With a smaller relative surface area than a conventional kite, this one needs a constant 5+ knot wind ( at least 6 miles per hour) to keep it aloft.
 This was no problem as the wind speed increased.  At a distance, this is a quite convincing kite.  The streamers are needed to stabilise the kite direction.  Without them it will loop wildly.  I am tempted to try it with shorter wing streamers, but that will wait until I have some lighter ribbons of clear plastic.
 With a little more wind, the kite becomes much more stable.
Bringing it down is easy if you peg the cord to the ground and walk along shortening the cord until the kite is near ground level.  Much quicker to crash the kite, but I want to fly this one again.
It is years since I seriously flew a kite - What fun.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Gordon Cullen

In 1958, a tile wall mural was commissions for the lower precinct in Coventry.  It represented much of the history of the city.  The work was undertaken by Gordon Cullen and installed during the redevelopment in 1958.
As part of the mural, there is a wall showing prehistoric creatures.  One is a representation of a pterosaur.

This could be of Dimorphodon macronys, though the characteristics are very generalised.  It is good to see such a ceramic representation from 1958.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Pterosaurs at Liverpool

 Having recently visited the Liverpool World Museum to see the cast of Quetzalcoatlus northropi suspended in the Foyer, I saw a number of specimens on display in the galleries.  The specimen in the foyer is big and imposing.
 In the education centre was a cast of a Tropiognathus skull.  This was a substantial sized pterosaur.
 A lone Rhamphocephalus bucklandi tooth from the stonesfield slate at Naunton, Gloucestershire was also on display.  This is a small, but complete tooth.
 Three plaster casts of small Solnhofen pterosaurs from the Lithographic Limestone of Bavaria are displayed along with a wing phalange of Pteranodon, from Kansas in the same display as the Rhamphocephalus tooth.
There is also a phalange from the lithographic limestone of Bavaria that is attributed to Pterodactylus.  Both ends are damages, but this seems a good association to me.

There is also a small, but somewhat outdated model of a pterodactylus, of which I do not have a photograph.  The World Museum at Liverpool is an excellent visit if you have not been before.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Humerus crests

The large deltoid process in pterosaur humeri show a great degree of variation between species and families.  Early Rhamphorhynchoid species tend to have deep, long and flat deltoid processes whilst later species show a narrowing and extending of this process.  Later pterodactyloid species tend towards a curved deltoid process on the Humerus.
This shows an example of some of the types.  Two later pterodactyloid species on the left and three earlier Rhamphorhynchoid species on the right.
These examples of early Rhamphorhynchoid humeri show the simple joint structures and the flat profile of the deltoid crest
By contrast, the humeri of larger pterodactyloid species show a different structure.  The joint surfaces are more complex and the deltoid crest is far from flat, showing a curved shape with a pronounced articular surface.
The curved shape of the deltoid crest can be seen in these images.
Pterosaurs were a very diverse order of animals, showing a vast variation of forms across millions of years of time.  As they became more specialised, the skeletal structures showed more complexity.  Many of the structural bones of the skeleton demonstrate variation in this way, less so in the wing phalanges.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Web server issues

The Pterosaur Database has experienced a server file loss on the morning of the 19th April 2015.  The cause was an internal problem. About half of the files have been restored and the site is working in part.  It is hoped that all function will be restored in the next two days.  Alas, there is no backup server for this "free to use" site.

2 days on:  The server content has been restored to last months state, with recent files being updated manually.  I hope I have restored all of the files that were absent, but there may be issues with some missed updates.  It is unlikely that this technical failure will be repeated. I took the option of a server side recovery as a total reload would have used up vast amounts of upload time  (15 minutes as opposed to 26 hours).  All seems well so far.