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New paper - most primitive pterosaur?



Congratulations to Fabio Dalla Vecchia on his new Triassic pterosaur 
description.

The first Italian specimen of Austriadactylus cristatus (Diapsida, Pterosauria) 
from the Norian (Upper Triassic) of the Carnic Prealps. 
Rivista Italiana di Paleontologiea e Stratigrafia 115: 291-304.

It has serrated teeth. Big eyes. A huge naris. Nothing preserved from the hips 
on back except one knee. 

Take note, Bennett followers, the manus is preserved with digits I-IV aligned 
(not I-III backed up to IV).

I have issues with various identifications, but the key to this specimen is its 
phylogenetic nesting. 

Fabio merged it with Austriadactylus (yes, it has a tiny premaxillary crest) 
and nested this taxon as a sister to Preondactylus on the basalmost node of his 
cladogram. 

That is exciting.

A second test of the new specimen, SC 332466, as a unique taxon along with 
others sampled from all other known pterosaurs (including Austriadactylus) 
nests it as THE basalmost pterosaur, two nodes away from Austriadactylus. Any 
other nesting adds at least six steps. A forced nesting with Austriadactylus 
adds 10 steps. 

Looking at SC 332466 one gets preambles of all the other basal pterosaur taxa 
with a strong lean toward Dimorphodon. The skull is largely made up of fenestra 
separated by fragile struts, not quite the robust skull of Austriadactylus. It 
also looks quite a bit like the three non-pterosaur fenestrasaurs, but with a 
much larger naris and antorbital fenestra reducing the size of the orbit. 

Contact Fabio for reprints.

David Peters
St. Louis