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Kryptodrakon, earliest pterodactyloid pterosaur from Mid-Jurassic of China



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new online paper:

Brian Andres, James Clark & Xing Xu (2014)
The Earliest Pterodactyloid and the Origin of the Group.
Current Biology (advance online publication)
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.030
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982214003224
http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(14)00322-4


Summary
The pterosaurs were a diverse group of Mesozoic flying reptiles that
underwent a body plan reorganization, adaptive radiation, and
replacement of earlier forms midway through their long history,
resulting in the origin of the Pterodactyloidea, a highly specialized
clade containing the largest flying organisms. The sudden appearance
and large suite of morphological features of this group were suggested
to be the result of it originating in terrestrial environments, where
the pterosaur fossil record has traditionally been poor, and its many
features suggested to be adaptations to those environments. However,
little evidence has been available to test this hypothesis, and it has
not been supported by previous phylogenies or early pterodactyloid
discoveries. We report here the earliest pterosaur with the diagnostic
elongate metacarpus of the Pterodactyloidea, Kryptodrakon progenitor,
gen. et sp. nov., from the terrestrial Middle-Upper Jurassic boundary
of Northwest China. Phylogenetic analysis confirms this species as the
basalmost pterodactyloid and reconstructs a terrestrial origin and a
predominantly terrestrial history for the Pterodactyloidea.
Phylogenetic comparative methods support this reconstruction by means
of a significant correlation between wing shape and environment also
found in modern flying vertebrates, indicating that pterosaurs lived
in or were at least adapted to the environments in which they were
preserved.

Highlights
We report the earliest and basalmost pterodactyloid pterosaur
The Pterodactyloidea originated in terrestrial environments
Pterosaur evolution is highly correlated with paleoenvironment
Pterosaurs were adapted to the environments in which they were preserved

News story:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/hidden-dragon-a-protopterodactyl/story-e6frgcjx-1226895281664