Petrodactyle Wellnhoferi: A Remarkable Late Jurassic Pterosaur

Petrodactyle Wellnhoferi: A Remarkable Late Jurassic Pterosaur
Petrodactyle Wellnhoferi: A Remarkable Late Jurassic Pterosaur


Petrodactyle wellnhoferi, a fascinating pterosaur species, thrived approximately 145 million years ago during the Late Jurassic epoch in what is now Germany. Belonging to the Ctenochasmatidae group, this flying reptile possessed distinctive characteristics that set it apart from its counterparts. In this article, we will delve into the remarkable features of Petrodactyle wellnhoferi and explore its ecological significance during the Jurassic period.

1. A Striking Bony Crest:

Petrodactyle wellnhoferi boasted one of the largest bony crests among Jurassic pterosaurs. This anatomical feature, primarily utilized as a sexual signal within the species, was even more extensive in life due to the presence of skin-like extensions. According to Dr. David Hone, a paleontologist at Queen Mary University of London, Petrodactyle's crest surpassed that of any other ctenochasmatid.

2. Unique Jaw Structure:

Petrodactyle wellnhoferi possessed elongated jaws adorned with an intriguing combination of short and spike-like teeth. Unlike its ctenochasmatid counterparts, this pterosaur exhibited an expansion at the back of its skull, allowing for the attachment of large jaw muscles. Consequently, Petrodactyle wielded a stronger bite than many of its contemporaries, facilitating its feeding habits.

3. Dietary Habits and Adaptations:

Although Petrodactyle wellnhoferi likely thrived as a piscivorous predator, preying on small fish, its diet extended beyond piscine fare. The pterosaur's menu potentially included cephalopods, small crustaceans, and even hatchling dinosaurs. While ctenochasmatoids typically acted as carnivorous filter feeders, Petrodactyle's teeth differed significantly. Its widely spaced, short teeth were not conducive to filter feeding, suggesting alternative feeding strategies.

4. Fossil Discovery and Implications:

The specimen of Petrodactyle wellnhoferi was unearthed in 2010 at the Schaudiberg Quarry in Bavaria, Germany. This discovery shed light on Late Jurassic pterosaurs, expanding our understanding of their diverse adaptations. With a wingspan of around 2 meters (6.6 feet), the fossilized individual represented an older 'teenager' among pterosaurs, indicating the potential for even larger mature specimens.


Petrodactyle wellnhoferi stands out as one of the largest pterosaurs known from the Late Jurassic epoch. Its impressive bony crest, unique jaw structure, and distinct feeding habits contribute to our knowledge of this remarkable species. By studying fossils like Petrodactyle, paleontologists continue to uncover the intricate ecological dynamics of the Jurassic period, highlighting the significance of these ancient creatures in shaping prehistoric ecosystems.

Leave a Reply