Pterosaur Wing Membranes ?   No Longer a "Bat Wing"

Below are four small images of pterosaur wings from a wide variety of taxa. Clicking on any one will send you to a larger image (539k to 110k). Captions accompany each one.

Anurognathus BPM 0002 Eosipterus Zhejiangopterus
Anurognathus BPM 0002 Eosipterus Zhejiangopterus

In at least three of the specimens, please note that the wing membrane does not approach the lateral toe, the ankle, or the tibia, as previously hypothesized. Rather the wing membrane is rather narrow along its entire length, terminating medially a short distance aft of the elbow, often with a short "fuselage fillet" extending posteriorly from that point to the femur.

In the second specimen, BPM0002, the bones are in such a mess that one cannot determine the connection to the body.

This "new" design shown here is really not that new. In 1910 and 1913 Stromer illustrated a narrow chord wing after studying a specimen of Rhamphorhynchus. In 1985 Schaller made similar observations but, sadly, their hypotheses were never widely accepted.

There are more examples and lots of new data in a new paper which explain the situation in more detail. The reference is:

David Peters, 2002. A New Model for the Evolution of the Pterosaur Wing with a twist. Historical Biology, Vol. 15, pp. 277?301.

Even the supposedly deep-chord wing membranes of Pterodactylus, Sordes and Jeholopterus are exposed and dismantled in this paper.

Any questions or comments should be directed to:

I thank my host, Jim Cunningham, for erecting this website on my behalf.

David Peters


Schaller, D. (1985) Wing Evolution. In The Beginnings of Birds edited by M.K. Hecht, J.H. Ostrom, G. Viohl, and P. Wellnhofer, pp. 333-348. Eichstätt: JuraMuseu.

Stromer, E. (1910) Bemerkungen zur Rekonstruktion eines Flugsaurier Skelettes. Monats berichte der deutschen Geologischen Gesellschaft, 62(1), 85-91

Stromer, E. (1913) Rekonstruktion des Flugsauriers Rhamphorhynchus Gemminigi H. v. M. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geologie und Paläontologie 2, 49-68.

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