DISTRIBUTION AND TAPHONOMY OF THE FLYING REPTILE, PTERANODON, FROM THE CAMPANIAN LOWER PIERRE SHALE OF SOUTH DAKOTA
Eighty-six percent of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Museum of Geologys pterosaur collection consists of wing elements. The remaining percentages of the pterosaur fossils include associated skull fragments, articulated phalanges, scapulae, coracoids, carpals, femora, tibiae, and a part of a basicranium. Two specimens also contain fish vertebrae, which appear to be stomach contents. Two hypotheses explain the abundance of wing elements. The first hypothesis is the existence of a predatory preference. The wing membrane, compared to fleshier body parts, may not offer much to hungry mosasaurs or other predators. The second hypothesis is that the wing membrane would secure the wing elements in place while other elements were free to decompose and fall away, contributing to possible scavenging and breakage. In that case, the wing membrane may have served as a protective layer over the bones until burial.