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Re: new papers in Acta Geologica Sinica: Ningchengopterus
With regard to Ningchengopterus, and lots of other new pterosaurs, it
would be very helpful for the authors to
1. spend more time delineating the skull and other elements, rather
than calling it quits after simply broadly outlining of the resulting
2. create detailed reconstructions of their finds and compare them to
similar reconstructions of closest known sister taxa to assure and
2a. This is especially pertinent in the case of potential 'babies' or
'juveniles' because there's this hypothesis floating around
(Wellnhofer, Jouvé, Bennett and others) that states the juveniles
don't have to look like the parents.
2b. in cases of reported ontogenetic change in pterosaurs we need to
reexamine those three pterosaur embryos and compare them to adult
taxa to see exactly what does change during ontogeny. Those are the
only young pterosaurs for which an exact ontogenetic age is known.
Right now, there are no established rules we can follow. These
specimens can establish a baseline of data in three clades.
3. quit relying on a few long bone proportions alone. More tests and
comparisons are needed from other, more revealing and apomorphic
portions of the anatomy.
4. recall the ironically prescient words of David Unwin 2004 in his
book 'The Pterosaurs from Deep Time' in which he wrote: "Ås a rule,
this means that juveniles tend to be uncommon in the vertebrate
fossil record, and individuals at very early states of growth
(newborn or even prenatal) are rare or unknown–except, oddly enough,
Junchang LÜ. 2009. A Baby Pterodactyloid Pterosaur from the Yixian
Formation of Ningcheng, Inner Mongolia, China. Acta Geologica Sinica,
Volume 83 Issue 1, 1-8.
A new baby pterodactyloid pterosaur with soft tissue preserved,
Ningchengopterus liuae gen. et sp. nov., is erected based on a nearly
complete skeleton with a skull. It was characterized by the skull,
slightly longer than the combined length of the dorsal and sacral
vertebrae; 50 teeth (including upper and lower jaws); short mid-
cervical vertebrae; the humerus and the scapula, equal to that of the
wing metacarpal in length; the ulna and the femur, equal to that of
the first and third wing phalanx in length, respectively. The similar
ratio of the wing phalanx 2 to wing phalanx 1 of Ningchengopterus and
Eosipterus implies that Ningchengopterus may be close to the
ctenochasmatid pterosaur. However, it may also imply that the
isometrically growing of the first two wing phalanges exists among