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New pterosaur exhibition
New pterosaur exhibition
A new pterosaur exhibition (Drachen der Lufte) has just opened for 7 months
(09.06. 2000 - 07.01.2001) in the Jura-Museum, Eichstätt, Bavaria.
The exhibition, organised by Gunther Viohl and the largest ever devoted
entirely to pterosaurs, fills two rooms and has more than 40 real specimens on
display. These include some very good Holzmaden specimens, numerous Solnhofen
pterosaurs, some spectacular new finds from the Crato Formation of Brazil and
two superb casts of pterosaur tracks from the Late Jurassic of Crayssac,
France. The display items are complimented by numerous, elegant, poster-sized
explanations, often with beautiful full colour photos and reconstructions that
illustrate all aspects of pterosaur biology. In addition, there are numerous
casts and models, including the wing of Quetzalcoatlus northropi and a very
cute fuzzy little Pterodactylus.
Highlights of the exhibition include the 'dark-wing' Rhamphorhynchus, one of
the best preserved Solnhofen specimens ever found which has a main wing
membrane that can be clearly seen to attach to the hind limb as far as the
ankle (oh yes, indeedy!), the superb Crayssac tracks with foot print
impressions that match pterosaur feet so perfectly, even down to the exact
outline of the foot webs, that I wonder how we (including me) ever doubted that
Pteraichnus was pterosaurian, and the astonishing Crato tapejarid with the
mother of all head crests.
If all this still hasn't tempted you into making a visit might I also point out
that the main exhibition in the Jura-Museum is undoubtedly the best anywhere on
the fauna and flora of the Solnhofen Limestone and even includes a real
specimen of Archaeopteryx. The whole lot is housed in the Schloss
Willibaldsburg, a splendid castle set on a hill top overlooking the ancient and
very pretty town of Eichstatt (the 'Ammoniten', a bar-restaurant with a 30 foot
well in one of the side rooms, is recommended). In addition to lots of smaller
museums also featuring Solnhfen fossils, the Altmuhl valley and surrounding
countryside is speckled with lush meadows and forests full of wildlife, quite a
lot of which features in the local cuisine.
Eichstatt can be easily visited by train from Munich (don't forget to ask for
Eichstatt Stadt, reached by a ten minute train ride from the main station which
is a little way out of town). The museum is in the strikingly obvious large
white castle on the top of the hill, a fifteen minute walk up through the wood.
The restaurant immediately before the museum is open all day so you can sip ice
cold beer while listening to warblers singing just below the terrace.
International visitors should arrange to fly into Munich - you can buy train
tickets directly in the airport and get a train from downstairs all the way to
Eichstatt (change in Munich).
For further information on Eichstaat try http://www.eichstaett.de, or call
tourist information on 08421 98 800.
PS June temperatures are hitting record highs here in Berlin (38+ predicted for
today) - so I'm off to chill out in the Knochen Kellar.
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David M Unwin
Curator for Fossil Reptiles and Birds
Institut fur Palaontologie
MUSEUM FUR NATURKUNDE
Zentralinstitut der Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin
0049 30 2093 8577 (office)
0049 30 2093 8862 (department secretary)
0049 30 2093 8868 (fax)