Our pterosaur collection contains approximately 1,000 specimens and casts, from isolated incomplete bones to articulated skeletons on slabs.
British pterosaurs are well represented in the collection due to historic quarrying and collecting across the British Isles.
- Dimorphodon macronyx from the Lower Lias Group (Hettangian-Sinemurian age)
- Rhamphocephalus from the Stonesfield Slate (Bathonian age)
- Ornithocheirids from the Cambridge Greensand (Cenomanian age) and the Chalk Group (Cenomanian-Turonian age) in southern and eastern England
One of the best-preserved specimens is Istiodactylus latidens from the Wealden Group (Lower Cretaceous). There are also a small number of specimens from the Gault Clay.
Although many specimens are from pyrite-bearing strata and are vulnerable to pyrite decay, the collection is maintained in very good condition.
The pterosaur collection is available for use in any legitimate research project. Recent work by external researchers includes computer modelling of biomechanical properties of pterosaur wing bones, and studies of how the group evolved.
Foreign material includes:
- Pteranodon and Nyctosaurus from the USA
- a skull of Anhanguera from Brazil, on display in the Museum
- Dorygnathus, Rhamphorhynchus and Pterodactylus from Germany
Looking for a specimen?
The Pterosaur collection is being digitised
Any questions ?
If you would like to use any specimens for research
We have high-quality casts of other museums’ important specimens, including:
- Ctenochasma elegans
- Gnathosaurus subulatus
- Pterodactylus antiquus
- Rhamphorhynchus muensteri
- Scaphognathus crassirostris
- Quetzalcoatlus sp
- Brasileodactylus araripensis
- Pterodaustro guinazui
- Dsungaripterus weii
- Sordes pilosus
Countries of origin
British Isles, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Tanzania, Congo, Argentina, Brazil, USA and Australia.
Our pterosaur collection does not include any material from the Triassic, but has specimens from most stages of the Jurassic and Cretaceous.
Important historical collections
- Mary Anning Anning collected the holotype of Dimorphodon macronyx
Steel L (2013) The Pterosaur Collection at the Natural History Museum, London, UK: an Overview and List of Specimens, with Description of Recent Curatorial Developments. Acta Geologica Sinica 86: 1340-1355.
We have set out on an ambitious programme to develop a new science and digitisation centre at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire by 2026. As we prepare for the move, access to some collections will be affected.
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