Pterodactylus antiquus was the first pterosaur to be studied and described. In the late 1700s, a fossil of this unusual animal was acquired by a German ruler who kept a Wunderkammer, or cabinet of natural wonders, like many aristocrats of his day. The palace naturalist, Italian scholar Cosimo Alessandro Collini, examined the fossil in 1784. Collini was mystified. He was impressed by the animal’s long, flexible forelimbs but could not imagine what they were for.


  • Title: Pterodactylus antiquus
  • Creator: Photo: AMNH

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