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Ron wrote...

> Except - is it now universally agreed that pterosaurs DID have a 
> dermal covering?  I thought that some people had argued that the 
> remains were stiffening fibres inside the wing membrane.

Following work by David Unwin and Natalie Bakhurina (1994) on the 
exceptionally well-preserved wing membranes of the Russian pterosaur 
_Sordes_, a number of popular articles from earlier this decade 
wrote off **all** pterosaur fibres and 'hair' as wing-stiffening 
fibres (aktinofibrils). However, this was a mistake: Unwin himself 
later made it plain that he was certainly not arguing for the absence 
of fur-like integument in the _Sordes_ specimens as it is clearly 
present (and clearly different from the two kinds of aktinofibrils 
observed in the wing membrane). Also, no one has ever written off 
the follicles, hair bundles and single hairs preserved with 
_Rhamphorhynchus_ as described by Leich (1964) and Wellnhofer (1975).
(Take note Alan Feduccia, who relied on the popular articles for his 
1996 book).

For the latest word on this subject, see Frey, E. and Martill, D.M. 
1998. Soft tissue preservation in a specimen of _Pterodactylus kochi_ 
(Wagner) from the Upper Jurassic of Germany. _Neues Jahrbuch fur 
Geologie und Palaontologie, Abhandlungen 210: 421-441. The specimen 
they describe clearly has masses of hair-like bristles posterior to 
the neck vertebrae: certainly, there is no way these structures could 
have been integrated into the patagia! This is also the paper where 
Dino and Dave suggest that pterosaur 'hair' should not be called 
hair, but 'hair' (in fact, Dave in person actually calls it 
'hairoid'). I'd also like to say that I've seen pterosaur 'hair' 
myself on Crato specimens - in cases, it is well differentiated from 
the patagia and can be clearly discerned as individual, and 
occasionally very elongate, fibres.

Apologies to all who are awaiting emails from me, I will reply 

School of Earth, Environmental & Physical Sciences
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