Since the early 19th century, the genus name Pterodactylus has been assigned to countless animals of uncertain identity. As a result, multiple members of this genus have gone through reassessments and reclassifications. Aerodactylus scolopaciceps is one of them.
This Solnhofen pterosaur was first described in 1850 by Hermann von Meyer under the name P. longirostris. In 1860, the specimen was reassigned into P. scolopaciceps and once again P. kochi in 1883, due to the convoluted nature of the genus Pterodactylus.
More than 150 years later, a study conducted by Steven Vidovic and David Martill re-examined the relationship between multiple Pterodactylus specimens. In their 2014 publication, they stated that P. scolopaciceps is a valid species after all, but is not a member of Pterodactylus.
To reflect the differences, the genus name Aerodactylus was erected. Six juvenile specimens with complete skeletons were assigned the name A. scolopaciceps.
While the name Aerodactylus means “wind finger” in Greek, it is also a nod to the pterosaur-looking creature from the franchise Pokémon called Aerodactyl.
Aerodactylus was a small, songbird-sized pterodactyloid from the Late Jurassic Germany. The excellent preservation of the six specimens also revealed a triangular crest above its head and a backward-pointing lappet at the rear of its skull.
It was also known to have a throat pouch extending from the middle of its lower jaw to its pycnofibre-covered neck.