Vectidraco daisymorrisae – a new Isle of Wight pterosaur

A new pterosaur from the Isle of Wight, Vectidraco (Naish et al. 2013, Fig. 1) NHMUK PV R36621, has been named for its discoverer, Daisy Morris, all of 9 years old.

Vectidraco daisymorrisae

Figure 1. Vectidraco daisymorrisae from Naish et al 2013.

The partial specimen is represented by a left pelvis and associated partial sacrum is uncrushed and an exciting addition to our knowledge of Early Cretaceous pterosaurs. It’s not very large (see scale bar, fig. 1). Here (Fig. 2) we’ll add some missing parts, colorize vertebrae and try to produce a more understandable specimen.

Affinities
Naish et al. (2013) considered Vectidraco a basal azhdarchoid, which, in their terms meant close to the common ancestor of both azhdarchids and tapejarids (Fig. 2). The large pterosaur family tree, however, indicates that those two clades are not related to one another, despite sharing some traits, including a distinctive expanded posterior process of the ilium.

Figure 2. Vectidraco reconstruction and comparison to other pterosaur pelves with that odd posterior ilium flair. With similarities to the unrelated azhdarchids, the pelvis of Vectidraco appear to belong to a primitive tapejarid, One without a fused pelvis/ischium as in dsungaripterids and germanodactylids. The pelvis of Sinopterus has not been figured, but that is probably where we should look for a closest comparison. That's assuming the model Tupuxuara pelvis is accurate.

Figure 2. Vectidraco reconstruction and comparison to other pterosaur pelves with an odd posterior ilium flair. With similarities to the unrelated azhdarchids, the pelvis of Vectidraco appear to belong to a primitive tapejarid, one without a fused pelvis/ischium as in dsungaripterids and germanodactylids. The pelvis of Sinopterus has not been figured, but that is probably where we should look for a closest comparison. Oddly, many taxa around Sinopterus fail to adequately preserve the pelvis. That’s assuming the model Tupuxuara pelvis is accurate. Tropeognathus is related to neither azhdarchids nor tapejarids, but it likewise has an expanded posterior process of the ilium, but clearly of a different sort of shape.

Matching Morphologies
Here the closest match to the pelvis of Vectidraco is that of Tupuxuara, with the proviso that ancestors (Germanodactylidae) and sisters (Dsungaripteridae) to the Tapejaridae have an open ventral interosseous space and a smaller posterior process of the ilium. Tapejara does not fuse the pubis and ischium, but they are in contact. Earlier we looked at a tapejarid post-cranial specimen with a complete and ventrally fused pelvis (Sayao and Kellner 2006), close to Tupuxuara. For these phylogenetic bracketing reasons I presume the pelvis belongs to a smaller even more basal tapejarid along the lines of Sinopterus.

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.

References
Naish D, Simpson M and Dyke G 2013. A New Small-Bodied Azhdarchoid Pterosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of England and Its Implications for Pterosaur Anatomy, Diversity and Phylogeny. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58451. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058451 plosOne link

Sayão JM and Kellner AWA 2006. Novo esquelito parcial de pterossauro (Pterodactyloidea, Tapejaridae) do membro Crato (Aptiano), Formação Santana, Bacia do Araripe, Nordeste do Brasil. Estudos Geológicos 16(2):16-40.

BBC links
Huffington Post link
wik/Vectidraco

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.