In response to an interested reader, J. Headden, I spent the day looking at and tracing the head and neck of Sharovipteryx, attempting to identify the skull parts. I used phylogenetic bracketing to determine what shapes I should be looking for, especially in the palatal elements. I present them here as large as they will show in WordPress.
DGS Digital Graphic Segregation
The DGS tracing (Fig. 2) reveals the elements of the crushed skull, including some palatal elements that have shifted to the side. There is a winged insect there, lacking one wing, in the antorbital fenestra. There are other insects, mostly beetles, elsewhere on the slab and the site is known for its insects. Somer workers dismiss DGS, but no one else has found the details presented here using traditional microscope, prism and pencil tools.
I wanted to present a much larger image in order for readers to determine for themselves if the neck structures were hairs, wrinkles or collagen. To my mind these are elongated fibers, overlapping others. The specimen is buried slightly in the matrix. If there are stray hairs hidden below the matrix, they have yet to be exposed.
Earlier we discussed the use of this 6x wider neck skin as an aerodynamic strake used during gliding.
Reconstruction from graphic elements
Here (Fig. 3) the colored elements are arranged according to their identities to check fit and create a reconstruction in several views.
Yes, there could be some mistakes. This tracing differs from prior versions. If you find problems, please alert me to them. At this point no one else on the planet has attempted a precise reconstruction of the skull of Sharovipteryx based on examination of the specimen. The fact that my reconstruction changes over time is not an indictment of DGS, but a measure of my increasing experience and judgement.
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 2000. A Redescription of Four Prolacertiform Genera and Implications for Pterosaur Phylogenesis. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia 106 (3): 293–336.
Sharov AG 1971. New flying reptiles from the Mesozoic of Kazakhstan and Kirghizia. – Transactions of the Paleontological Institute, Akademia Nauk, USSR, Moscow, 130: 104–113 [in Russian].