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Azhdarcho (Pterosauria) neck reconstruction and lifestyle



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new paper:

A. O. Averianov (2013)
Reconstruction of the neck of Azhdarcho lancicollis and lifestyle of
azhdarchids (Pterosauria, Azhdarchidae).
Paleontological Journal 47 (2): 203-209
DOI: 10.1134/S0031030113020020
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1134/S0031030113020020


A computer reconstruction of isolated cervical vertebrae of Azhdarcho
lancicollis from the Turonian of Uzbekistan allows three-dimensional
model of the cervical region of the vertebral column of this animal.
The relative length of cervical vertebrae (I + II < III < IV < V > VI
> VII > VIII > IX) is the same as in pterodactyloids with short
cervical vertebrae. An increase in neck length is provided mostly by
the middle cervical vertebrae (IV–VI). In a neutral posture, the neck
of azhdarchids was not straight, as often reconstructed, but S-shaped,
with the maximum angles between the V–VI (20°), VI–VII (20°), and
VIII–IX (17°) vertebrae. The feeding strategy of azhdarchids was
probably similar to that of pelicans. In a search for prey,
azhdarchids were soaring above the water surface of large inland or
nearshore marine water bodies. Their prey (predominantly fish) was
captured by the widely open mouth and fell into the throat sac, the
presence of which is suggested by the spiral jaw joint. Prey was
swallowed during the abrupt neck flexion in the posterior segment,
which brought the head in an almost horizontal position. A storklike
wading ecology for azhdarchids is less probable, because these clumsy
on land animals were vulnerable to terrestrial predators.