Saturday 4 July 2009

Rhamphorhynchus Taphonomy

"Rhamphorhynchus Taphonomy"
Black drawing pen and violet brush pen illustration
June 2009
By Mo Hassan

Taxon illustrated is Rhamphorhynchus longicaudus (M√ľnster, 1839)
Rhamphorhynchidae; Pterosauria; Sauropsida; Chordata

R. longicaudus fossil (cast)
Oxford Museum of Natural History
July 2008

My contribution to the pterosaur gallery at ART Evolved (still accepting submissions, by the way!) is one of my favourite of the Mesozoic flying reptiles, the wonderful long-tailed Rhamphorhynchus. I decided to draw the skeleton, copied from the photograph of a fossil I saw in Oxford last year. I then decided to depict the animal as it would have looked when it just died and before the body started to decay. Both illustrations were done with drawing pens, and the "fur" and tail diamond on the non-fossilised pterosaur were accentuated with a purple brush pen.

I decided to join the wing membrane to the knee; this does not mean I have a preference for this particular type of restoration, it's just that the legs and tail appear better in this case when they are free of membranes. The piece is titled "Rhamphorhynchus Taphonomy" because it depicts two stages of taphonomy. This is the process of decay, and potentially fossilisation, of an organism from the point of death. In this case, the two extremes of the taphonomic process are shown side-by-side; the very beginning, on the right, and the very end, on the left.

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