Douzhanopterus zhengi gen. et sp. nov.
Xiaoli Wang, Shunxing Jiang, Junqiang Zhang, Xin Cheng, Xuefeng Yu, Yameng Li, Guangjin Wei & Xiaolin Wang (2017)
New evidence from China for the nature of the pterosaur evolutionary transition.
Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 42763 (2017)
Pterosaurs are extinct flying reptiles, the first vertebrates to achieve powered flight. Our understanding of the evolutionary transition between basal, predominantly long-tailed forms to derived short-tailed pterodactyloids remained poor until the discovery of Wukongopterus and Darwinopterus in western Liaoning, China. In this paper we report on a new genus and species, Douzhanopterus zhengi, that has a reduced tail, 173% the length of the humerus, and a reduced fifth pedal digit, whose first phalange is ca. 20% the length of metatarsal III, both unique characters to Monofenestra. The morphological comparisons and phylogenetic analysis presented in this paper demonstrate that Douzhanopterus is the sister group to the ‘Painten pro-pterodactyloid’ and the Pterodactyloidea, reducing the evolutionary gap between long- and short-tailed pterosaurs.