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Aerodactylus, new name for Jurassic pterosaur from Germany

Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Steven U. Vidovic & David M. Martill (2014)
Pterodactylus scolopaciceps Meyer, 1860 (Pterosauria,
Pterodactyloidea) from the Upper Jurassic of Bavaria, Germany: The
Problem of Cryptic Pterosaur Taxa in Early Ontogeny.
PLoS ONE 9(10): e110646.

The taxonomy of the Late Jurassic pterodactyloid pterosaur
Pterodactylus scolopaciceps Meyer, 1860 from the Solnhofen Limestone
Formation of Bavaria, Germany is reviewed. Its nomenclatural history
is long and complex, having been synonymised with both P. kochi
(Wagner, 1837), and P. antiquus (Sömmerring, 1812). The majority of
pterosaur species from the Solnhofen Limestone, including P.
scolopaciceps are represented by juveniles. Consequently, specimens
can appear remarkably similar due to juvenile characteristics
detracting from taxonomic differences that are exaggerated in later
ontogeny. Previous morphological and morphometric analyses have failed
to separate species or even genera due to this problem, and as a
result many species have been subsumed into a single taxon. A hypodigm
for P. scolopaciceps, comprising of the holotype (BSP AS V 29 a/b) and
material Broili referred to the taxon is described. P. scolopaciceps
is found to be a valid taxon, but placement within Pterodactylus is
inappropriate. Consequently, the new genus Aerodactylus is erected to
accommodate it. Aerodactylus can be diagnosed on account of a unique
suite of characters including jaws containing 16 teeth per-jaw,
per-side, which are more sparsely distributed caudally and terminate
rostral to the nasoantorbital fenestra; dorsal surface of the skull is
subtly depressed rostral of the cranial table; rostrum very elongate
(RI = ~7), terminating in a point; orbits correspondingly low and
elongate; elongate cervical vertebrae (approximately three times the
length of their width); wing-metacarpal elongate, but still shorter
than the ulna and first wing-phalanx; and pteroid approximately 65% of
the total length of the ulna, straight and extremely thin (less than
one third the width of the ulna). A cladistic analysis demonstrates
that Aerodactylus is distinct from Pterodactylus, but close to
Cycnorhamphus Seeley, 1870, Ardeadactylus Bennett, 2013a and
Aurorazhdarcho Frey, Meyer and Tischlinger, 2011, consequently we
erect the inclusive taxon Aurorazhdarchidae for their reception.