Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pterosaur Restorations!

There have been a LOT of questions on this blog about Pterosaur wings and appearance (and a lot of opinions being thrown around), so at Craig's (or should I say Traumador's) request, I've rounded up some pics of pterosaurs to give you all some ideas for your submissions to the Pterosaur gallery. For your artistic inspiration, Paleo-fans and ArtEvolved crew members..........

...Here are some restorations of Pterosaurs over the ages - some accurate, some..... well, to quote Borat, NOT SO MUCH! Everyone seems to have different theories on how Pterosaurs looked, particularly their walking posture and where the wings attached - and there's a wide range of interpretations of the fossil evidence. So I'm posting the whole gamut of them here, and you be the judge. Here are some of the most memorable ones:

A very early engraving of Rhamphorhynchus from the Victorian Era (I can't remember who the artist was, and it's very outdated today - but this was a very popular image in its time - though ironically the head is more like Pterodactylus).

Rhamphorhynchus by Charles Whymper (lol that's a lot of silent h's)

Pteranodon by Heinrich Harder

Rhamphorhynchus by Zdnek Burian. Historically, the "bat-winged" model of ankle-attached wings was very popular as with all of the above images.

Dimorphodon by Gareth Monger

Pterodactylus kochi by John Conway, in a more recent free-legged configuration

Pteranodon stenbergi by Michael Skrepnick (at least a semi-free-legged configuration)

Ornithocheirus with hypothetical "bat wing" model (wings connecting to ankles). Source: Walking with Dinosaurs TV series.

Quetzalcoatlus northropi and the Chicxulub impact by Douglas Henderson (look closely and you'll see the legs are free of the wings).

Anhanguera piscator by John Conway - a prime example of the free-legged model

Tupandactylus imperator by Mark Witton - quadrupedal "bat" model

Peteinosaurus (by an unknown artist) - a cross between hip attachment and the "flying squirrel" model sometimes proposed for rhamphorhynchoids.

Ornithocheiroid pterosaurs by Mauricio Anton (I'm not sure of all the species, but the one on the left looks like Anhanguera or Criorhynchus, while the one on the right is clearly something else.)

Pteranodon models (life size, sculptor unknown) with knee-attached wing membranes based on recent research. The legs look like they have some odd wing-wetsuit on... but overall pretty elegant.

Anurognathus by Mark Witton. Note the bat-like extension of the wings all the way to the ankles.

Four Cretaceous Pterosaurs by John Bindon - Clockwise from top: Tapejara, Tupuxuara, Ornithocheirus, Anhanguera. This painting follows the hip-attached or knee-attached wings model

Zhenjiangopterus linhaiensis by John Conway. (*it's ALIIIIIIVE!*)

Thalassodromeus (by an unknown artist, though the style reminds me of Bindon's)

Pteranodon ingens (female) skeletal by Gregory S. Paul (in Paul, 1991: The Many Myths, Some Old, Some New, of Dinosaurology). Paul supports the theory that the short tail of Pterodactyloids was not totally lost because it was retained as an attachment point for the wing membranes.

A great reference for drawing takeoff poses and modern restorations with wings NOT attaching to the legs.

Quetzalcoatlus northropi by Gregory S. Paul (due to the shutdown of the "Unofficial Gregory S. Paul gallery" fansite, I was only able to find this odd green-tinted copy. I really wish there were a book with more of his art in it.)

Yes indeed, a true color reproduction of a Gregory S. Paul painting - a breeding pair of Quetzalcoatlus northropi defend their nest from a Daspletosaurus. The original of the previous picture showed them with the same colors. This painting gives a good idea of the sheer size of the biggest pterosaurs.

Pterodaustro by Mark Witton. There are very few decent restorations of Pterodaustro, and regardless of personal opinions on wing structure, this is definitely one of the best.

Pteranodon and Hatzegopteryx by Mark Witton
(here we see "bat-like" full ankle attachment, which would have optimized wing surface area, but severely limited the range of movement on all limbs when walking)

As no definitive proof of how the membranes attached has been verified, ALL of the more recent images above (i.e. anything newer than those outdated Victorian-era engravings) involve some guesswork and all of them have to be taken with a pinch of salt ... but they all agree on the basic morphology of EVERYTHING ELSE about pterosaurs. So have fun drawing them.

: shhhhh....Mark Witton, Greg Paul, and all the "experts" don't want me to tell you this... but this is what pterosaurs REALLY looked like (:P)

``******+**** <> ****+******``

Just kidding. Well, there's my cheesy little unicode Pteranodon! lolz. Seriously though, don't draw them like this.

AAAAAAND.... for those of you REALLY curious as to how most people would not draw a pterosaur, I give you....

Koseman and Conway's Pterodactylus inspired by David Peters' research

[The caption that accompanied this piece has been removed by ART Evolved's Administrators due to the editorial commentary causing offense to the artist in question.
Our apologies to David Peters for any offense this commentary may have caused him.. However in the defense of our member who made these comments, they were not derogatory of David Peters as an individual, but rather just this piece of art itself and the scientific logic behind it.
We have changed it as per Mr. Peters request in the interest of resolving this disagreement of opinion in a civil fashion. As it was of a scientific nature, it goes beyond the art mandate of ART Evolved, and we are not wishing, nor capable of resolving it adequately on this site.
We thank Mr. Peters' for his interest in ART Evolved and hope he will consider contributing more to the site in the future.]


Peter Bond said...

Thanks Nima! Great job collecting pterosaur reference artwork - even some I'd never seen before, particularly John Bindon's work!

I've also always liked the old Henry de la Beche pterosaurs and the very old Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins sculptures. Not accurate at all, but classic and inspiring nonetheless!

Can't wait to see everyone's submission(s)!

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

"Ornithocheirus with hypothetical "bat wing" model (wings connecting to ankles). Source unknown."

That's the Walking with Dinosaurs Ornitocheirus! :)

Nima said...

Thanks, Dinorider.

I'll update that 'cheirus.

Zach said...

I like the "bat wing" model best, used primarily by Witton. Conway has always liked the "free cheiropatagium" model, which I don't think is supported at all.

I've decided on a genus, but I'm still trying to figure out what it should be doing...

Nima said...

I don't think Witton's bat wings are supported. He actually admits they are speculative in one of his papers and that there are many different views on pterosaur wings. Conway concedes the same.

For my part, I have yet to see a single fossil (or even a photo of one) that proves bat-like wings beyond any reasonable doubt. And the biomechanics of such a thing would be overstressed to the point of fantasy, especially in a quadrupedal crawling pose. I see the whole bat-wings image as - well - outdated and impractical. Sort of like Burian's snorkeling sauropods. Looks cool, but it wouldn't ever realistically work.

As for Conway - granted he's really good with anatomy, a first-class artist, and he collaborates with Mike Habib and other pterosaur workers - but I still consider his model inferior to Greg Paul's. For one thing, the wings need more surface area - and the tail is a far more efficient place to attach them than just cutting them short along the sides. Otherwise I'd expect pterodactyloids to have lost their tails entirely. I'll take Paul's Azdarchid restorations over either Witton's or Conway's any day (though all three have plenty of talent).

As for what the creatures should be doing...Pterosaurs confronting little birds or mammals might be an interesting idea. Or perhaps one species raiding the nest of another. I'm taking it easy this week since I'm practically unconscious after finishing my final exams, so my pterosaur will probably just be flying off into nowhere. I hope the detail will at least count for something :)

D.P. said...


I'm sure I'm not the artist of that last one. I feel like my character has been assassinated. Kindly change the caption if you have a heart and a sense of fairness. But keep the art. It's quite whimsical.

I'll send you some images from my 2001 paper from Historical Biology on pterosaur wing design if you like. You'll find that the Zittel wing for Rhamphorhynchus can be applied universally to pterosaurs, as exemplified by the Vienna specimen of Pterodactylus, which is identical.

David Peters

D.P. said...

BTW, pterosaurs are lizards. If you want to ignore all the other morphological clues, you can just look at the sort of eggs they laid. Much thinner shells than any archosaur.

If you want to consider morphology, just try to find an archosaur with an elongated finger four. Or an elongated toe five.

David Peters

ART Evolved said...

David Peters-

Thank you for taking the time for stopping by our site, and alerting us to your concerns.

As per your request we have removed the caption accompanying your piece, and left the art.

However in regrads to your statement:

"I feel like my character has been assassinated"

We would just like it stated we do not agree with this accusation, and defend our member's editorial commentary as having been non-personal against you as a person or your character. Our member's statments never went beyond your piece of art or the scientific rational behind it.

As your artistic and scientific approach on this piece differed greatly from common convention, it is not too surprising there will be some backlash and resistence to these new and novel ideas. We can see why such commentary on our site would be offensive and unacceptable to you however, and thus we have removed it from our site. At the same time, we do not agree that our member was attacking your character directly.

As ART Evolved's mandate is the promotion of all palaeo-art we shall be learning from this incident in future art review posts, and ensure that no more similar reactionary commentary accompany artworks.

We would welcome an article or guest post written by yourself on your logic and method used in the creation of this piece. Thus clearing the air, and allowing everyone to learn your new approach to Pterosaur restoration. Contact us at of this would interest you.

Thank you

ART Evolved's admin team

Heidi Michelle Hellstern said...

These are beautiful... I love these. I've always loved Harder's work.