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Re: Anurognathus questions

----- Original Message -----
From: "Nick Gardner" <ratites637@hotmail.com>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2003 11:21 AM
Subject: Re: Anurognathus questions

> Chris Bennett wrote-
> >My first reaction is"how wide?"  However, the skull is thought to be
> >wide because the skulls of the second specimen, the fragmentary skull of
> >Batrachognathus, and the crushed skulls of Jeholopterus and
> >Dendrorhynchoides are clearly wide.  You wrote:  "the type is preserved
> >laterally"--are you sure?
> >
> I know very little about pterosaurs but if the type is the specimen
> on p. 273 of Drs. Norman & Wellnhofer's "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of
> Dinosaurs" (Salamander Books: London), then yes, the skull at least has
> preserved laterally.  I'm very curious in regards to this because I don't
> know if the following data is accurate or not, that being that "its tail
> reduced to a short stump, similar to the Parson's nose or pygostyl of
> birds".  Does Anurognathus actually have a pygostyle? :-?

I wrote "You wrote:  "the type is preserved laterally"--are you sure?" as a
way of pointing out that I do not think that the holotype of Anuorgnathus
preserves the skull in lateral view.  Both Do"derlein and Wellnhofer seem to
have interpreted the specimen as preserving the skull in lateral view, and
that probably was not unreasonable given the quality of preservation and the
absence of other specimens.  However, with the information provided by the
well-preserved skull of the second specimen, it is clear to me that the
skull of the holotype is crushed obliquely and missing many elements.  I do
not think it would be possible to correctly interpret the skull of the
holotype without additional information from other specimens.

Do"derlein first suggested that the tail was pygostyle-like and Wellnhofer
seems to have at least accepted that interpretation.  The new specimen, a
juvenile roughly 55% the size of the holotype, has a short tail composed of
a number of unfused vertebrae.  It provides no evidence to suggest that the
tail was pygostyle-like.  It is possible that the caudals fused in mature
individuals, but I would point out that in my opinion the tail of the
holotype, which is preserved only as an impression, does not provide
convincing evidence of fusion into a pygostyle-like structure.

> In regards to piscivory, is it possible that this (and other pterosaurs
> are similar to it) were capable of wading and fishing in a manner similar
> some shore-line birds?

While it is possible that Anurognathus could wade, it probably would not be
happy in water even 10 cm deep.  Even if it could float duck-like and dive
after fish, the fact is the jaws are wider than long and what with the drag
they would produce are simply not suited for catching fish under water.


S. Christopher Bennett, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Basic Sciences
College of Chiropractic
University of Bridgeport
Bridgeport, CT 06601-2449