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January 10, 2008
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The Structure of a Pterosaur by jconway The Structure of a Pterosaur by jconway
Here's something I've been working on for quite some time: a multi-layered diagram of all the structural elements of a pterosaur - basically, the things that give them their shape.

You can find the full version, with a still image, an interactive version, and a higher-res video at palaeontography => [link]

It's also up at YouTube [link] , if you want to vote for it, or whatever people do on YouTube.
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:iconlegendguard:
legendguard Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Absolutely stunning! It's a shame pterosaurs are extinct, they're such fascinating creatures.

Why are all the cool animals dead?!
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:icondamir-g-martin:
damir-g-martin Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Fantastic study! Thanks for sharing this!
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:iconkatepfeilschiefter:
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner May 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I want to thank you for making this, it's a helpful reference whenever I'm inventing anatomy for flying critters.
Reply
:icononikaizer:
Onikaizer Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
excellent reference, very hard to get by. glad i found it!
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:iconrasa88:
Rasa88 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I couldnt ask for a larger image of this by any chance could I? For muscle reference purposes, all credit given of course! I'm stunned you've managed to muscle and build the entire animal!
Reply
:iconbardicspoon:
BardicSpoon Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2010
Very interesting article, especially regarding muscle structure and the nature of their wings.
Reply
:iconsharp-n-pointy:
sharp-n-pointy Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This really is quite amazing work.
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:iconjelsin:
JELSIN Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2008  Professional General Artist
AMAZING! :D
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:icontehfuzzyduck:
TehFuzzyDuck Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2008
Most impressive!
Reply
:iconcorvo9:
corvo9 Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2008
wow, very very nice!

really interesting and informative comments too !
Reply
:iconraptor-cut:
raptor-cut Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008
Great anatomical study! Any plans for more diagrams in the near future?
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:iconnambroth:
Nambroth Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008  Professional General Artist
Brilliant! When I draw pterosaurs next time, may I use these diagrams to help/as reference, so I don't butcher the anatomy agian?
Reply
:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008
I'd live to see you do another pterosaur - your last ones were >< that close to being right. You have a very good feeling for wings and animal anatomy, if given enough accurate material, I think you could produce some of the best pterosaur artwork about.
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:iconnambroth:
Nambroth Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008  Professional General Artist
Thank you, that genuinely means a lot coming from you!
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:iconlennan:
lennan Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008
very nice and informative!
Reply
:icontuomaskoivurinne:
tuomaskoivurinne Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great study!
Reply
:iconsphenacodon:
Sphenacodon Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2008
Wow, this is amazing reference material! It's way better than most of the stuff going into popular mags and books these days, and it looks great too.

They have air sacs in their wings? :-o
Reply
:iconnemo-ramjet:
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008
As far as popular mags go, the latest National Geographic had some of the most horrific digital illustrations imaginable :/
Reply
:iconsphenacodon:
Sphenacodon Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2008
That was exactly what I had in mind - ick, ptui... <gargles with dose of real paleo-art>

Why is it that those digital illustrations have become all the rage lately?
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:iconnemo-ramjet:
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2008
I don't know, they are certainly cheaper, but more importantly, take less time to do do them. "digital illustration" has no problems, this piece is digital too... it's gunky 3-d that gets to me.
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:iconsphenacodon:
Sphenacodon Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2008
Right, I meant the 3D. :doh: 2D digital is excellent, don't misread me on that one.

Unless the 3D is of a really good caliber, it ends up looking tacky.
Reply
:iconnemo-ramjet:
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2008
could it be that 3-d is the new airbrush?? =)
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008
Thanks!

It's probable that pterosaurs had air sac in their wings - we know that their forelimb bones were pneumatic. Highly pneumatic birds have air sacs in their wings, and inflate the propatagium in flight - you see it in pelicans.

Kellner gave a talk at the Munich pterosaur conference recently where he identified some tissue in fossilized wing membrane as potentially air-sac material.

The aerodynamic benefits to pterosaurs being able to shape their wings with air-sacs would have been enormous, so a functional argument can be made as well.

All in all, I'd say it's a fairly strong case, though certainly not air-tight (haw-haw).
Reply
:iconsphenacodon:
Sphenacodon Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2008
Fascinating. Of course, animals the size of the big pterosaurs could use the extra help in flight.

:lol:
Reply
:iconbrad-ysaurus:
Brad-ysaurus Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2008
This is way too good for what National Geographic prefers to publish these days. Maybe five years ago...

Are the fingers curled under the wing? Every popular image I've seen shows them sticking out the front of it, which now that I think about it is probably silly from an aerodynamic perspective.
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008
Thanks!

The fingers are on top of the wing. There are a couple of specimens which show this, and none that preclude it. It's very odd that it has become standard to show them on the bottom.

There's no way the fingers would have stick out like you often see during flight (I'm not even sure they could!). And in a lot of the smaller-fingered pterosaurs, the base of digit IV would have projected further forward than any of the other fingers.

Also, the fingers of Anhanguera are absolutely tiny, so they fit snugly into a the little hollow atop digit IV.
Reply
:iconbrad-ysaurus:
Brad-ysaurus Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2008
I see the little claw tips now. I didn't know that Anhanguera had reduced hands, I was looking for bigger, more generic pterosaur fingers.
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:iconsteveoc86:
Steveoc86 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2008
Wow! Thanks so much for posting that and for all the hard work! The video was great too.

I was going to ask the old wing configuration question ....but even that was addressed! :)
Reply
:iconnemo-ramjet:
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2008
I'll be damned if your artwork won't appear in places like National Geographic and Science in the next five years... breathtaking!
Reply
:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2008
Thanks Nemo! Though I'm sure we're both damned anyway...
Reply
:iconnemo-ramjet:
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2008
We are damned indeed, I just heard of the news about this ultra-well preserved Triceratops with reptilian scutes along its belly AND possibly-integument-bearing "nipples" on its back. AAAAA!
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2008
Wa? LNX PLOX!
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:iconnemo-ramjet:
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2008
[link]

I dunno, it may not be 100% accurate.
Reply
:iconheatherbeast:
Heatherbeast Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2008
Eee, are those airsacs?

Neat! Are there reports/fossil records that indicate the existence of these?
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:iconjconway:
jconway Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2008
Yes, and yes. Pterosaurs were clearly pneumatic - their bones were hollow, and they have pneumatic foramina all over them. Many pterosaurs similar to the very high range for relative pneumaticity in birds. There are also reports of fossil air-sac material being found in their wings, but we'll have to wait for the paper on that one.
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:iconheatherbeast:
Heatherbeast Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2008
Oh, so awesome! Now I wanna read the primary literature for myself. :) I have an internet detective project for myself tonight!
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