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putty, glue and Nyctosaurus apomorphies
The FHSM specimen of Nyctosaurus appears to have a rostral crest, but no other
Nyctosaurus has the character. A photograph of the original specimen at
http://www.oceansofkansas.com/Pteranodon/FHSM/FHSM_VP-2148-4.jpg [for all
to see] appears to indicate a crest made of putty. Since no one has thoroughly
described this specimen, I'll leave that judgement call to others. For me its
rostrum crestum dubium.
With regard to the two (pmx-frontal) crested Nyctosaurus specimens, KJ1 and KJ2
[sorry, couldn't find any originals online], these two share that fantastic
crest, but the skulls are otherwise quite distinct. I note that the
short-snouted one (KJ1, and the only one that comes up as a cast with a Google
search of images) also has what appears to be deep mandible and a ventrally
convex maxilla. Unfortunately, no other Nyctosaurus has such a deep mandible or
such a convex maxilla. Those are Pteranodon characters. While KJ1 appears to
have a complete rostrum there's no clear premaxilla and once again putty seems
to form the ventral margin and tip of the rostrum. The mandible is broken into
several pieces. When reassembled and the long curved cylindrical bone that rims
the ventroposterior mandible is removed, the mandible depth largely disappears,
matching other Nyctosaurus. With such data it may be that KJ2 represents the
true appearance, if one had to pick between the two, because it has more
Nyctosaurus synapomorphies and fewer Pteranodon synapomorphies.
I make these remarks online because I know DML readers and artists are
sticklers for accuracy and once someone figures out what Nyctosaurus really
looked like, they'll want to fix whatever errors may be in their artwork. Also,
I can't find my pdf of Bennett's paper (2003) on these two, probably lost
during data transfers from computer to computer in the last seven years. If
anyone has a copy, it would be warmly appreciated.
Last item: Chris's website displays his homepage
http://www.fhsu.edu/biology/cbennett/research.html but all other links are
coming up blank. If someone has his ear [unfortunately I don't], please tell
him of the web problem.
All thoughts appreciated, and happy holidays.
Bennett, S. C. 2003 New crested specimens of the Late Cretaceous
pterosaurNyctosaurus. Paläontologische Zeitschrift, 77:61-75.