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Re: Anhanguera and Anhangueridae (was News on pterosaur)
I discussed with Alex Kellner this subject a time ago and he affirmed
me that the names Anhaguera and Anhagueridae are valid. And that
Anhaguera piscator is a valid species...
Anhanguera and Anhangueridae
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 so
me 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 fr
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 Buffe
taut/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 my
remarks on this for another time.
David M. Unwin PhD
Institut fur Palaontologie, MUSEUM FUR NATURKUNDE
Zentralinstitut der Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin
Invalidenstrasse 43, D-10115 Berlin, GERMANY
0049 30 2093 8577 (office)
0049 30 2093 8862 (department secretary)
0049 30 2093 8868 (fax)