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PTEROSAUR BROKEN LEG etc



Re: the holotype of _Pterodactylus antiquus_ with its 
broken femur, Dave Peters asked...

---------------- 
2. What sort of of taphonomic process would be strong 
enough to crack off a femoral head and leave the rest of the 
skeleton undamaged?
----------------

In my research collection here at UOP is a cormorant 
(_Phalacrocorax carbo_) that I found dead on an Isle of 
Wight beach. Funnily enough it was discovered on the field 
trip that followed the _Cretaceous Biodiversity_ 
symposium. Dave Unwin were you there? It was in 
excellent condition and displayed no signs of malnutrition, 
trauma or injury (the cormorant, not Dave Unwin). Paul 
Davis provided the heavy-duty bag that it was carried home 
in (luckily it didn't smell bad so I managed to get it back to 
Portsmouth on the ferry ok). Violating health and safety 
protocol, I later skeletonised it in the university grounds. 
Anyway, cutting a long story short, the skeleton was in 
pristine condition (excluding a healed fracture on the sternal 
carina) excepting a cleanly broken femoral shaft. This may 
have been caused by whatever event led to its death but, 
there you go. I suppose it might have suffered a collision of 
some sort.

Needless to say you should check out Chris Bennett's new 
paper in the latest _Palaeontology_ (note spelling) for a full 
account of pterodactyloid pathologies.

-- 
Darren Naish
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of Portsmouth UK, PO1 3QL

email: darren.naish@port.ac.uk
tel: 023 92846045