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Dimorphodon
Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Order Pterosauria
Family Dimorphodontidae
Subfamily Dimorphodontinae
Genus Dimorphodon
1st Species Dimorphodon macronyx
Other attributes
Time Range 197-190 mya
Location United Kingdom, Mexico
Name Meaning Two-form tooth
Physical Dimensions 1.5 meter wingspan
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Dimorphodon is a dimorphodontid pterosaurian reptile from the Early Jurassic of the United Kingdom and Mexico. It was officially named in 1859 by Richard Owen. It was the earliest discovered primitive pterosaur, and was thought to be a species of Pterodactylus before finally being described as its own genus.

PhysiologyEdit

Dimorphodon had a build true to its primitive origins, with 4 legs (2 of which served as wings), 4 fingers on each hand (one of which was elongated and supported the wing membrane), a small body, a long tail with a diamond-shaped vane on its end, and a large head with large jaws. Most of its body (excluding its snout and wings) would have been covered in a fur-like covering called pycnofibers.

DietEdit

Dimorphodon was a predator, preying on insects, lizards, and small mammals. Its jaws had two kinds of teeth, hence the meaning of its name, "two-form tooth"; on its upper jaw, it had large, fang-like teeth designed for grabbing prey, while on its lower jaw, it had smaller, less pointy teeth designed for holding its chosen target.

EcologyEdit

Dimorphodon was once thought to be a coastal piscivore, soaring near the shoreline and catching fish with its jaws. However, people that realized that it had very short wings (its wings were only slightly over twice the length of its legs), and so, it is now assumed that Dimorphodon was not very good at flying; rather, it was more at home on the ground and in the trees, only flying in order to escape predators or access locations not easily reached by climbing or jumping. Along with this, it is now commonly thought to be an insectivore, snapping up insects and holding onto them with its jaws; however, it would have been too big to feed on insects alone, and so, it would have also preyed on lizards and small mammals, making it a generalist predator. Despite this, its jaw muscles were relatively weak, and so, it would have only eaten small prey.

In popular cultureEdit

Dimorphodon was first introduced to the public in the 1912 novel, The Lost World, where it is referred to as a "pterodactyl" and depicted as a vicious, eagle-like aerial predator; since then, this trope has extended to other pterosaurs, such as Pteranodon. As well as this, it has been featured in major pieces of media such as Fantasia, The Land Before Time, and Dinotopia, where it is shown in a more passive light (although the very latter depicts it as a true bird). So far, Dimorphodon's biggest public appearance was in the 2015 science fiction movie, Jurassic World, where it is once again featured as an aggressive flying predator that attacks from above; it is also shown alongside an oversized and even more aggressive Pteranodon.

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