|Anurognathus ammoni makes itself like a tree, but doesn't leave. Prints are available.|
This depiction of anurognathid palaeobiology isn't merely idle speculation on my part. In 2007, pterosaurologist Chris Bennett described a famously spectacular, tiny specimen of Anurognathus from the Jurassic of Germany preserved with its limbs and wing fingers folded around its body. Chris noted that this posture is common in anurognathid fossils but largely unseen in other pterosaurs, and suggested it reflected a common in vivo limb configuration specific to this group. He further speculated that the purpose of this pose was to make the animals compact and inconspicuous, for which cryptic colouring would also be beneficial. There are obvious parallels to make here with insect-chasing birds like nightjars and potoos, which also rely on specific postures and colouration to blend into their surroundings. This is not merely to avoid detection by predators, but also gives an advantage for ambushing prey. Given that anurognathids are widely considered insect-chasers, the surprising difficulty associated with catching some insect prey and the explosive flight ability of these little pterosaurs (stay tuned!), Bennett's speculations about their appearance and habits fit neatly into current models of anurognathid palaeobiology, and can be considered a reasonable way to depict these animals in palaeoart.
Coming soon - hopefully - a host of theropods, more pterosaurs, and the most exciting dinosaur art of all... a solitary hadrosaur!
- Bennett, S. C. (2007). A second specimen of the pterosaur Anurognathus ammoni. Paläontologische Zeitschrift, 81(4), 376-398.