Mystery Ptero Tracks from Wenxiyuan

Xing et al. (2012) recently reported on a set of narrow-footed and narrow-gauge pterosaur tracks from the Early Cretaceous of China accompanied by quite large manus impressions. Xing et al. (2012) reported, “The pterosaur tracks are assigned to Pteraichnus isp. and were probably made by a small to medium-sized pterodactyloid.” Unfortunately they could be no more specific, but to their credit, did compare the tracks to those of Haenamichnus in the text, which can be attributed by shape and size to a member of the Azhdarchidae. [isp. = ichnospecies]

The narrow foot and short toes of the Wenxiyuan tracks point immediately to the azhdarchid line (Peters 2011). The large size of the manus compared to the foot points to Chaoyangopterus, also from the Early Cretaceous of China. Not much else to say. It’s a pretty good match for a relatively poor track. Of the manus, only the fingertips are impressing here apparently. That’s okay. The fingers were not load bearing.

Wenxiyuan pterosaur tracks.

Figure 1. Image of Chaoyangopterus to scale with newly reported Wenxiyuan pterosaur tracks. It's a good match.

If you want to see how quadrupedal pterosaurs like Chaoyangopterus walked, click here.

As always, I encourage readers to see specimens, make observations and come to your own conclusions. Test. Test. And test again.

Evidence and support in the form of nexus, pdf and jpeg files will be sent to all who request additional data.

Peters D 2011. A Catalog of Pterosaur Pedes for Trackmaker Identification
Ichnos 18(2):114-141.
Xing L-D, Harris  JD, Gierliński GD,  Gingras MK, Divay JD, Tang Y-G and Currie PJ 2012. Early Cretaceous Pterosaur tracks from a “buried” dinosaur tracksite in Shandong Province, China. Palaeoworld (advance online publication)

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