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    Description

    EXCEPTIONAL FLYING DINOSAUR
    Rhamphorhynchus muensteri
    Late Jurassic
    Solnhofen Formation, Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany

    Pterosaurs ("winged lizard"), or Pterodactyls ("winged finger") as they are often known, flourished during the late Jurassic period approximately 155 million years ago. They represent the first vertebrates to make the transformation to flight, with hollow bones and light-weight bodies well-adapted to life in the air; from tracks found in the fossil record, however, 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 incredible specimen probably died 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 immediately covered it allowed for the preservation of astonishing detail in the famed lithographic limestone of the Konservat-Lagerstätt beds at Solnhofen. The distinctive snout-beak displays fantastic three-dimensionality, bristling with long, slender teeth, and the same superlative quality of preservation and detail is visible throughout the rest of the skeleton. The ribs, arm-bones and sternum also display superb three-dimensionality, and the hand claws shimmer with an enamel-like patina. The long, slender wing vane impressions swoop across the matrix and the robust tail terminates in a tangled collection of tail vane fibers. The bones display a lovely woody brown patination, with superb texture, and the whole skeleton measures 19½ inches long in a pale, creamy matrix with one dramatic dendritic intrusion. Of irregular perimeter, the whole piece measures approximately 30 x 21½ inches. A truly first-class, museum-standard specimen.


    Estimate: $90,000 - $120,000.

    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. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2012
    20th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,086

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