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Anhanguera and Anhangueridae (was News on pterosaur)



Anhanguera and Anhangueridae

Dear Colleagues,

Please note that although some authors continue to use the names 'Anhanguera' 
and 'Anhangueridae' doubt has been cast on the validity of the first and the 
second is a junior synonym of Ornithocheiridae. 

The name 'Anhanguera' is discussed by Frey et al. (2003) in their chapter on a 
new crested ornithocheirid in the Buffetaut/Mazin volume. More complete skulls 
with associated lower jaws from the Santana Formation of Brazil show that 
material identified as Brasileodactylus is identical (apart from 
presence/absence of crests - a highly variable intraspecific condition in 
pterodactyloids) to material assigned to Anhanguera. Complicating matters, 
however, is the possibility that Brasileodactylus is itself a junior synonym of 
Coloborhynchus, as Frey et al. (2003) discuss. For the present I would prefer 
to keep Brasileodactylus and Coloborhynchus separate, but this is clearly an 
issue that requires some detailed investigation (see also Fastnacht 2001). I 
have also briefly commented on these issues in my phylogeny paper in the 
Buffetaut/Mazin volume and in more detail in an earlier paper on Cambridge 
Greensand pterosaurs (Unwin, D. M., 2001. An overview of the pterosaur 
assemblage f!
 ro!
m the Cambridge Greensand (Cretaceous) of Eastern England. - Mitteilungen 
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Geowissenschaftlichen Reihe, 4: 189-222.). 

Irrespective of the exact status of Anhanguera, it is quite clear that material 
assigned to this taxon, together with remains of Brasileodactylus, 
Coloborhynchus and Ornithocheirus can all be united in a well defined clade of 
pterodactyloids characterised by the shape of the jaws and details of the 
dentition (see e.g. Unwin 2000, 2003). The senior name for this clade is 
Ornithocheiridae Seeley 1870. 'Anhangueridae' has been, and continues to be 
used by some authors (see for example Kellner's (2003) phylogeny paper in the 
Buffetaut/Mazin volume) for this clade but it is quite clearly a junior synonym 
of Ornithocheiridae. 

Unfortunately, in the Pterosauria Handbuch published in 1978 Wellnhofer 
erroneously proposed that Pterodactylus (= Lonchodectes) compressirostris, from 
the English Chalk, was the type species of Ornithocheirus - unaware that a type 
species, Ornithocheirus simus, already existed, as I have explained in some 
detail in my Greensand pterosaur paper (Unwin 2000, p. 194). It is especially 
unfortunate therefore that some authors (Kellner 2003, p. 105) continue to 
repeat this erroneous attempt to fixate the type species of Ornithocheirus, 
even though it is now well known, and thereby further confuse what is already a 
rather complicated taxonomic situation. Those familiar with pterosaur phylogeny 
may also have some comments on the rather astonishing association of 
Ornithocheirus (= Lonchodectes) compressirostris with the 'Anhangueridae' in 
Kellner's (2003) phylogenetic analysis, in that lonchodectids lack any 
apomorphies of ornithocheirids, or even ornithocheiroids, but I will save m!
 y !
remarks on this for another time. 

Cheers,

Dave 

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David M. Unwin PhD

Institut fur Palaontologie, MUSEUM FUR NATURKUNDE 
Zentralinstitut der Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin
Invalidenstrasse 43, D-10115 Berlin, GERMANY

Email: david.unwin@rz.hu-berlin.de

Telephone numbers:
0049 30 2093 8577 (office)
0049 30 2093 8862 (department secretary)
0049 30 2093 8868 (fax)
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