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    Rhamphorhynchus sp.
    Solnhofen, Germany

    This impressive fossil represents the rarest and largest of all species of Pterosaurs found in the famous limestone quarries of the Konservat-Lagerstätt beds at Solnhofen in Bavaria. Aside from the spectacular preservation to the skeleton, the three-dimensional skull with beautifully distinct (and sharp!) teeth, and even some evidence of stomach contents, the most fantastic element of this specimen is the internal detail to the right wing membrane impression. Also present is the membrane impression of the delicate "sail" located at the end of its characteristically long tail. On many of these type of fossils the tail is not adequately preserved, and on even fewer, is the detail of the incredibly delicate membranes present. Adding to the appeal of this piece are the beautiful fern-like dendrites outlining the skeleton; these organic-seeming patterns are formed by the evaporation of water that has seeped into the rock, leaving behind its mineral contents, usually manganese (black) or ferric (brown) oxides. 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. Strictly speaking, being airborne, they were not dinosaurs, but two further elements make the distinction plain: they had warm blood and although evidence of feathers has not been found, many were covered in a coat of hair. Rhamphorhynchus 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. This example is believed to have been excavated in the 1930's, and remained in the quarry owner's collection until being sold a few years ago. It 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 the preservation of such fine detail as the membranes here, and over the years, transformed into the famed Solnhofen lithographic limestone, so uniquely fine that it is still today the only suitable rock for lithographic printing. This rare and spectacular fossil measures 15¼ inches from skull to tail tip, with a wingspan that would have measured almost 40 inches across, in an irregularly-shaped matrix approximately 25½ x 22 inches.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    8th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,480

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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