Did William Smith (1769–1839), the father of biostratigraphy, discover a Jurassic pterosaur tooth?

David M. Martill, Lorna Steel, Roy E. Smith

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A partial, isolated tooth from the Middle Jurassic (Bathonian) Stonesfield ‘slate’ of the Taynton Limestone Formation of Oxfordshire is identified as likely coming from a ctenochasmatid pterosaur. Referral to Ctenochasmatidae is based on its very slender, slightly curved crown with near circular cross-section and subparallel margins, slightly inflated root and its stratigraphic age. The tooth is part of the William Smith fossil collection held at the Natural History Museum, London. The collection was assembled as part of William Smith's attempt to identify and map strata around England and Wales in the last decade of the 18th century and the first 15 years of the 19th century. Smith's extensive fossil collection of more than 2500 specimens was purchased by the British Museum in 1816 (Wigley et al., 2018), and thus the specimen is the first pterosaur to be accessioned to the national collection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-255
JournalProceedings of the Geologists' Association
Issue number3
Early online date21 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • Pterosauria
  • Ctenochasmatidae
  • Middle Jurassic
  • England
  • William Smith


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