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Re: Cope's Rule in the Pterosauria - Hone & Benton 2007




Mark Witton wrote:

"most later [pterosaurs] were probably coastal fish-eaters"

(Hitting head against wall) - really, what is the deal with this idea? 100 years ago, the analogy of pterosaurs as Mesozoic shorebird equivalents would've stood up, but nowadays, with greater knowledge of pterosaur diversity, it just doesn't. I admit, all the direct evidence of pterosaur dietary preference indicates a fishy diet (e.g. Rhamphorhynchus, Eudimorphodon, Pteranodon, possibly Pterodactylus), but there are compelling anatomical and taphonomic reasons to think that many pterosaurs, including many from the Late Cretaceous, were not flapping around shorelines catching fish.

Yes, this is what I was driving at. The idea that pterosaurs were mostly coastal fish-eaters has become as entrenched as the idea that Mesozoic birds were predominantly insect-eaters. Yet, many Mesozoic avians show adaptations and/or abdominal contents consistent with fish-eating, or at least an aquatic/marine habit.


Also, members of the pterosaur family Anurognathidae (_Anurognathus_, _Batrachognathus_, _Dendrorhynchoides_, _Jeholopterus_) had a morphology consistent with catching insects 'on the wing' - big eyes, wide mouths, and perhaps wings and tail adapted for slow, maneuverable flight.

Nick Pharris wrote:

> "...Further, there was always a substantial size gap between the largest birds and the smallest > birds at any time. The suggestion that birds somehow drove the pterosaurs towards large size, > and perhaps to final extinction, is currently not supported."

That should read "a substantial size gap between the largest birds and the smallest *pterosaurs*," right?

The paper says "largest birds and the smallest birds", so it's possibly a typo.


Cheers

Tim

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