Anurognathus is a genus of small pterosaur that lived approximately 155-140 million years ago during the late Jurassic Period (Tithonian stage). It had a short head with pin-like teeth for catching insects and although it traditionally is ascribed to the long tailed pterosaur group (Rhamphorhynchoidea), its tail was comparatively short, allowing it more maneuverability for hunting. The reduced tail of Anurognathus was similar to the pygostyle of modern birds. Its more typical rhamphorhynchoid characters include its elongated fifth toe and short neck. With a wingspan of 50 cm (20 inches) and a 9 cm long body (skull included), it probably weighed no more than a few grams. Only two skeletons have been found, in the Solnhofen limestone of Bavaria. Anurognathus was first named and described by L. Döderlein in 1923.
The genus name Anurognathus is derived from the Greek αν/an- ("without"), оυρα/oura ("tail"), and γναθος/gnathos ("jaw") in reference to its unusually small tail relative to other rhamphorhynchoids pterosaurs. The species name A. ammoni honours the Bavarian geologist Ludwig von Ammon. Anurognathus was a member of the family or clade Anurognathidae.
In popular culture
- Anurognathus was featured in the second episode of the British documentary series Walking with Dinosaurs. It was shown having a mutual symbiotic relationship with the dinosaur Diplodocus, eating parasitic insects off its skin. This symbiosis (though purely hypothetical) is very similar to the modern day tick bird.
- Anurognathus was later featured in the fifth episode of the ITV science fiction television series Primeval. Here, Anurognathus was erroneously portrayed as living in the Late Cretaceous period, 85 million years ago, with behavior akin to a piranha. The producers of the program portrayed Anurognathus as having an amazingly keen sense of smell, able to detect blood from hundreds of feet away. A flock was depicted stripping the flesh from a carcass in a matter of minutes, behavior at odds with anatomical evidence that shows this species to have been insectivores akin to the modern Frogmouth. These changes were made for dramatic effect.
- Anurognathus appeared in the video game Jurassic Park Sega Master System.
- Unwin, David M. (2006). The Pterosaurs: From Deep Time. New York: Pi Press. p. 246. ISBN 0-13-146308-X.
- "Anurognathus." In: Cranfield, Ingrid (ed.). The Illustrated Directory of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures. London: Salamander Books, Ltd. Pp. 292-295.
- Döderlein, L. (1923). "Anurognathus ammoni ein neuer Flugsaurier." Sitzungsberichte der Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftlichen Abteilung der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Munchen, 1923, 306-307.
- Milne, Mike. "Primeval sees Framestore CFC's Creatures Leap into the 21st Century". http://www.framestore-cfc.com/television/primeval/index.html.