A New Sister for Huanhepterus

One of the strangest pterosaurs of all is also the least known. All I know about Huanhepterus (Dong 1982, Fig. 1) is found in Wellnhofer’s 1991 Encyclopedia, a photograph of the rostrum and a line drawing of the reconstructed post-crania. No one has told me they have seen the post-crania first-hand. A trip to China to see the post-crania wasn’t productive in that regard.

Even so, taking the data at hand, I originally nested Huanhepterus with the flightless pterosaur, Sos 2428, n57, derived from n44 and n42. The basic problem was a reversal to the shorter metacarpus condition. That autapomorphy was bothersome enough to recheck the clade. Good thing I did. I found some errors in Beipiaopterus, a road-kill skeleton I had reconstructed many years ago. Now the two are sisters and the reversal is gone.

The ancestry of Huanhepterus. I

Figure 1. The ancestry of Huanhepterus. It retained a relatively short metacarpus inherited from Beipiaopterus and Pterodactylus? spectabilis. Cope's Rule in action here, but not just prior to P? spectabilis, a tiny pterosaur following a mid-sized one, Dorygnathus.

A New Reconstruction for Beipiaopterus
Beipiaopterus was the problem. Several years ago, I had misinterpreted several traits. Now with corrections in place, Beipiaopterus becomes a sister to Huanhepterus and the short metacarpus autapomorphy goes away. Thereafter in this clade all taxa had a much longer metacarpus, including the flightless pterosaur, Sos 2428, the protoazhdarchids (n44 and n42) and the azhdarchids.

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.

Dong Z-M 1982. On a new Pterosauria (Huanhepterus quingyangensis gen.et. sp.nov.) from Ordos, China. Vertebrata Palasiatica 20(2):115-121.
Lü J-C. 2002. Soft tissue in an Early Cretaceous pterosaur from Liaoning Province, China. Memoir of the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum 1: 19-28.
Lü J-C 2003. A new pterosaur: Beipiaopterus chenianus, gen. et sp. nov. (Reptilia: Pterosauria) from Western Liaoning Province, China. Memoir of the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum 2: 153-160.


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