Anurognathus is a genus of small pterosaur that lived during the Tithonian stage of the late Jurassic period. Anurognathus was first named and described by Ludwig Döderlein in 1923.
The type species is Anurognathus ammoni. 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" (i.e. basal) pterosaurs. The specific name ammoni honours the Bavarian geologist Ludwig von Ammon, from whose collection Döderlein had acquired the fossil in 1922.
Anurognathus was one of the smallest pterosaurs, having a wingspan of about 50 centimeters. Because of that, Anurognathus was near the bottom of the food chain. However, Anurognathus would usually be safe from predators as it was a nocturnal, somewhat bat-like insectivore.
Portrayal in the series
In the series it was inaccurately depicted as a creature that lived its entire life on the backs of sauropods.
They got their food source from various parasites that would prey on their homes, unlike their slightly more accurate depiction in The Ballad of Big Al, where they were shown to live without any symbionts and hunt for their food (while also being prey for such predators as Al).
Appearances in the programmes
An Anurognathus was first seen clinging to a plant before flying onto the side of an adult Diplodocus. The Anurognathus was then joined by other members of his genus in consuming on the insects living on the sauropods. Whilst the large Diplodocus herd continued feeding and defecating, the Anurognathus fought, fed and bred on the lumbering leviathans.
Years later, when the episode's lead, an adolescent female Diplodocus, grew up, an Anurognathus was seen flying onto her to feed.
Anurognathus was constantly seen as a background creature in the special, being identified simply as a pterosaur unlike in Time of the Titans, where it was referred to by its scientific name. A notable appearance was
Anurognathus was seen at the end of the episode in the Jurassic landscape. The scene shown in the episode was stock footage from Time of the Titans.
Errors and Successes
- The Anurognathus shown in the series is seen living in North America. Fossils of Anurognathus have only been uncovered in Germany. However, fossils of a possible relative Mesadactylus have been discovered in North America.
- The animal has a bizarrely long neck, a narrower snout (in reality the animal's snout was a little wider),little bits of pycnofibers, and a great wing membrane folding. However, the animal in the series is based on a now-updated restoration from 1975, whereas the current depiction of the creature is based on a 2007 fossil analysis -- several years after the series was released.
- Anurognathus also appeared in the related show Primeval in Episode 1.5 and Episode 5.5. The Anurognathus in Primeval however, were depicted as ferocious, flesh-eating monsters, which is just as inaccurate as their depiction in Time of the Titans.
- Anurognathus was shown living on Diplodocus in Time of the Titans. In The Ballad of Big Al, the Anurognathus was seen living on its own, away from any sauropod.