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Fukui memoirs, pterosaur paper

On Friday 29 November David Peters wrote:

>When you see the Historical Biology paper you'll see that there really
>is only one wing shape among all pterosaurs, and your Zittel wing
>example is the one. The other wing shapes will be dismantled.

However, readers of the list should note that the Zittel specimen is an 
isolated wing, and that the rear edge of the wing membrane impression has 
clearly been 'prepared'. Consequently, while I would agree that this 
specimen can provide very important information on the STRUCTURE of the 
brachiopatagium it is quite unreliable with regard to the SHAPE of the 
brachiopatagium. Only reasonably complete specimens with fore and hind 
limbs and well preserved impressions that clearly show the edge of the 
brachiopatagium can provide real data regarding the SHAPE of the 
brachiopatagium. One such highly instructive specimen (fantastically well 
preserved) will be described in the forthcoming pterosaur volume edited 
by Eric Buffetaut. Needless to say it shows the brachiopatagium attaching 
all down the leg as far as the ankle. The important point I want to make 
here, though, is that if we wish to have meaningful discussion of 
brachiopatagium SHAPE it should be based on the best preserved examples, 
not problematic, isolated specimens such as the Zittel wing. 

One other critical point, as Pennycuick previously noted, the impressions 
of pterosaur wings that we have are essentially 'dead' wings. It would be 
quite wrong therefore, just to assume that their current shape reflects 
that of the living animal - ok, it might have done, but this needs to be 
clearly demonstrated, not just assumed. We would not, for example, 
presume that the wing membranes of Messel bats had the same shape in 
life, as is now seen in the fossils, so why make this assumption for 




Institut fur Palaontologie, MUSEUM FUR NATURKUNDE 
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