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Journal Entry: Wed Sep 19, 2007, 10:16 AM

<img class='logo' src='… / width='75px' height='100px'> palaeo'jconway'co'uk AKA palaeo'pterus'net
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Well, I'm back from the Munich Pterosaur conference - I bet you didn't even know I'd gone. Nevertheless, a report. I'll stick to the things that interested me most, which are to do with anatomy and flight mechanics that affect appearance. For a  broader view, check out  Darren Naish's blog…

Muchos thankos to Dave Hone who organised the thing, which not only went off without a hitch, but which was wall to wall awesome.

Just as an example, he had managed to collect the two finest specimens of Pterodactylus plus the holotype, the Zittel wing, the Darkwing Rhamphorynchus, a gob-smacking new specimen that I'm not sure I'm allowed  to talk about, the Tapejara with soft tissue crest, Ludodactylus, a freakin' Archaeopteryx and the really famous Compsognathus, plus a whole bunch of other specimens that blew everyone's socks off all in the same room. If you now anything about pterosaurs, you'll know how amazing that was.

I presented a poster on the forelimb musculature of Anhanguera, in which I reached a very similar conclusion to Chris Bennett who did a talk on the very same thing. Chris's paper will be out mid next year, my poster is available to anyone that asks under a creative commons license.

Chris and I both independently reached the conclusion that the wing finger flexes into flight position, and hyperextends to fold. The hand is essentially palm forward during flight (rather than palm-down, as is common in pictures). Chris also pretty convincingly argued that the pteroid articulates on the back underside of the preaxial carpal not on the top, as has been shown in countless drawings -- if true (and I'll bet my bottom dollar it is), it pretty much sinks the notion that the pteroid could point forward during flight.

Laurence Browning and the Bristol crew presented work on the flexibility of the wing spar using beam theory, and finite element analysis. The results were pretty similar to what I remember of similar work done during the Stanford Pterosaur Project - the outer wing was quite flexible. It would have flexed upward during flight quite a bit, though I don't remember the exact numbers. I have known about this for some time, and largely failed to incorporate it into my drawings. This has given me the nudge I needed, and I have updated my paintings where appropriate.

O'Conner, Classens and Unwin presented some pretty cool air sac stuff - most interesting to me was their diagram showing air sacs all throughout the wing - in front and behind the wings spar, just as I've been drawing it for ages now.

Mark Witton gave an interesting talk on pterosaur mass estimates. He found a really tight correlation between skeletal mass in modern birds and mammals to their overall mass (birds do not have lighter skeletons than mammals, they just have more voluminous bones). Applying that to pterosaurs, he got pretty high estimates for pterosaurs, considering how low some have been in the past. They are generally in line with Greg Paul's estimates, although the manner in which they were derived differs substantially. Quetzalcoatlus northropi came out at 250kg - which is the highest estimate yet (some have ranged as low as 70kg!), but not so heavy for an animal that could look a giraffe in the eye. Check out Mark's drawing, and more detailed explanation here =>…

Lastly, Helmut Tischlinger's photographs of the fossils under UV light is amazing, and brought a few new things to, erm... light. But you'll have to wait for the paper on that one.

There was lots more, but I'm sure there are better people to hear it from than me.

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lennan Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2007
Sounds all very neat and exciting, I think i really need to study the most up-to-date theories on 'em to fully understand and appreciate what you're talking about though. =)
Sainte-Vincient Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
One of these days I'm gonna get to go to one of these things. Sounds like an absolute blast. Reading your thoughts makes me turn seven shades of green--with jealousy, of course.
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2007
I also read that David Peters also had a one-man show sometime during the conference... I wonder how that was, and how the soft-tissue Tapejara looks like. Did it come preserved with lots of hair?
jconway Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2007
Dave gave a talk, which he whipped through, said a lot of stuff, and nobody really responded to much. Overall Dave and the reactions to Dave were mild and polite. I think everyone likes David Peters, they just don't agree with a word he says.

The Tapejara specimen was just the skull, no hair impressions.
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Submitted on
September 19, 2007