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Vectidraco, new azhdarchoid pterosaur from Lower Cretaceous of England



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

New in PLoS ONE:

Darren Naish, Martin Simpson & Gareth Dyke (2013)
A New Small-Bodied Azhdarchoid Pterosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of
England and Its Implications for Pterosaur Anatomy, Diversity and
Phylogeny.
PLoS ONE 8(3): e58451.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058451
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0058451

Background

Pterosaurs have been known from the Cretaceous sediments of the Isle
of Wight (southern England, United Kingdom) since 1870. We describe
the three-dimensional pelvic girdle and associated vertebrae of a
small near-adult pterodactyloid from the Atherfield Clay Formation
(lower Aptian, Lower Cretaceous). Despite acknowledged variation in
the pterosaur pelvis, previous studies have not adequately sampled or
incorporated pelvic characters into phylogenetic analyses.

Methodology/Principal Findings

The new specimen represents the new taxon Vectidraco daisymorrisae
gen. et sp. nov., diagnosed by the presence of a concavity
posterodorsal to the acetabulum and the form of its postacetabular
process on the ilium. Several characters suggest that Vectidraco
belongs to Azhdarchoidea. We constructed a pelvis-only phylogenetic
analysis to test whether the pterosaur pelvis carries a useful
phylogenetic signal. Resolution in recovered trees was poor, but they
approximately matched trees recovered from analyses of total evidence.
We also added Vectidraco and our pelvic characters to an existing
total-evidence matrix for pterosaurs. Both analyses recovered
Vectidraco within Azhdarchoidea.

Conclusions/Significance

The Lower Cretaceous strata of western Europe have yielded members of
several pterosaur lineages, but Aptian pterosaurs from western Europe
are rare. With a pelvis length of 40 mm, the new animal would have had
a total length of c. 350 mm, and a wingspan of c. 750 mm. Barremian
and Aptian pterodactyloids from western Europe show that small-bodied
azhdarchoids lived alongside ornithocheirids and istiodactylids. This
assemblage is similar in terms of which lineages are represented to
the coeval beds of Liaoning, China; however, the number of species and
specimens present at Liaoning is much higher. While the general
phylogenetic composition of western European and Chinese communities
appear to have been approximately similar, the differences may be due
to different palaeoenvironmental and depositional settings. The
western Europe pterodactyloid record may therefore be artificially low
in diversity due to preservational factors.



Darren Naish, Martin Simpson & Gareth Dyke (2013)
A New Small-Bodied Azhdarchoid Pterosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of
England and Its Implications for Pterosaur Anatomy, Diversity and
Phylogeny.
PLoS ONE 8(3): e58451.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058451
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0058451