Saturday, 2 October 2010

Parapsicephalus purdoni

I recently received an E-mail from Grant McKee regarding this interesting specimen, but was unable to reply since his Mail Server at was not accepting unauthorised mail (550 must be authenticated).
 Parapsicephalus purdoni cast in the Natural History Museum, London, photographed in 1984.

The original specimen was found in the Alum Shales at Lofthouse near Whitby in about1881 by the Rev. D.W. Purdon after whom it is named. The specimen was described in 1888 by E.T. Newton being originally designated Scaphognathus purdoni.The original fossil is now in the British Geological Survey at Keyworth, Notts.

Parapsicephalus purdoni skull photographed in 1986

This skull has a historical importance as it was the first pterosaur fossil to show a brain cast.  The original specimen was reproduced in cast form and the casts were distributed to key museums.  The specimen had one side of the cranial bones removed to expose the brain cast, showing the structure of the pterosaurian brain revealing the size of the main structures.

The skull form Altdorf - Bavaria 1994

A second skull from the Epsilon Lias of Bavaria was discovered in 1994 and this specimen which is unpublished shows close conformity with the Whitby specimen.

Newton  E.T., 1888. On the skull, brain, and auditory organ of a new species of pterosaurian (Scaphognathus purdoni) from the Upper Lias near Whitby, Yorkshire. Philospophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B 179:503-537

von Arthaber  G., 1919. Studien ├╝ber Flugsaurier auf Grund der Bearbeitung des Wiener exemplars von Dorygnathus banthensis Theod Sp., Denkschriften der k├Âniglichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse 97:391-464

Unwin  D. M., 2003. On the phylogeny and evolutionary history of pterosaurs, In: Evolution and Palaeobiology of Pterosaurs, edited by Buffetaut, E., and Mazin, J.-M., Geological Society Special Publication, n. 217, p. 139-190