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Europejara, new tapejarid pterosaur from Spain



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com


New in PLoS ONE:

Romain Vullo, Jesús Marugán-Lobón, Alexander W. A. Kellner, Angela D.
Buscalioni, Bernard Gomez, Montserrat de la Fuente & José J. Moratalla
(2012)
A New Crested Pterosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Spain: The First
European Tapejarid (Pterodactyloidea: Azhdarchoidea).
PLoS ONE 7(7): e38900.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038900
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0038900

Background

The Tapejaridae is a group of unusual toothless pterosaurs
characterized by bizarre cranial crests. From a paleoecological point
of view, frugivorous feeding habits have often been suggested for one
of its included clades, the Tapejarinae. So far, the presence of these
intriguing flying reptiles has been unambiguously documented from
Early Cretaceous sites in China and Brazil, where pterosaur fossils
are less rare and fragmentary than in similarly-aged European strata.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Europejara olcadesorum gen. et sp. nov. is diagnosed by a unique
combination of characters including an unusual caudally recurved
dentary crest. It represents the oldest known member of Tapejaridae
and the oldest known toothless pterosaur. The new taxon documents the
earliest stage of the acquisition of this anatomical feature during
the evolutionary history of the Pterodactyloidea. This innovation may
have been linked to the development of new feeding strategies.

Conclusion/Significance

The discovery of Europejara in the Barremian of the Iberian Peninsula
reveals an earlier and broader global distribution of tapejarids,
suggesting a Eurasian origin of this group. It adds to the poorly
known pterosaur fauna of the Las Hoyas locality and contributes to a
better understanding of the paleoecology of this
Konservat-Lagerstätte. Finally, the significance of a probable
contribution of tapejarine tapejarids to the early angiosperm
dispersal is discussed.