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

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.

True. Furthermore, I am personally a bit perplexed how pervasive the "competitive exclusion by other flying vertebrates" concept is. It's not a bad concept, per se, but it is a little vague. We do not tend to take the same attitude with any other locomotor type. We do not, for example, tend to jump at a competitive exclusion hypothesis for two fossil clades if their primary similarity was simply being terrestrial or aquatic. Flight is not somehow special in 'allowing' a smaller number of species. In fact, the opposite is closer to modern reality: insects, birds, and bats are all very large clades (by standards of both abundance and species diversity).

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.

Most definitely. And, it turns out that there are certain structural features of the forelimbs that are common amongst avian aerial hawkers that I suspect will be diagnostic for that ecomorph in pterosaurs as well (as they are related to the mechanics of that particular flight regime).


--Mike H.