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Re: Misc. Questions #3 on Nyctosaurus

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dino Rampage" <dino_rampage@hotmail.com>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2003 10:55 AM
Subject: Misc. Questions

> 3) Did Nyctosaurus have fingers or did it not have fingers?

Nyctosaurus obviously had fingers in that it had a wingfinger on each manus
supporting the patagium; however, I don't think that was what you were
asking.  I think you were inquiring as to whether it retained phalanges on
manual digits I-III.  In my 1997 paper (Bennett, S. C. 1997. Terrestrial
locomotion of pterosaurs: a reconstruction based on Pteraichnus trackways.
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 17:104-113.) I noted that there was no
evidence of digits I-III in any specimen.  Further work plus additional
specimens has convinced me that there is no evidence of either metacarpals
I-III or phalanges of digits I-III.  The supposed metacarpal mentioned by
Williston (1903) is something else.  Negative evidence cannot prove the
absence of the digits, but there are sufficient well-preserved specimens
that we would expect fingers I-III to be preserved if they were there.  I am
satisfied that they had been lost.


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