Flightless pterosaur – svp abstracts 2013

Now it’s in the published literature… the first known flightless pterosaur

Sos 2428. The flightless pterosaur.

Figure 2. Sos 2428. The flightless pterosaur. Click for more information and in situ photos.

Peters (2013) wrote: “Jura Museum Solnhofen Sammlung (SoS) 2428 is a largely complete, crushed, Solnhofen pterosaur. It was previously considered another specimen of Ardeadactylus (formerly Pterodactylus) longicollum, neotype: Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Stuttgart (SMNS) 56603. However, a closer look reveals important differences. The skull is longer than the cervical series in SoS 2428, but not in Ardeadactylus. The slender cervical ribs are each a centrum length in SoS 2428, but they are much shorter in Ardeadactylus. The parasagittally compressed dorsal vertebrae comprise only 40% of the torso length in SoS 2428, but 66% in the more typical pterosaur, Ardeadactylus. Conversely, in SoS 2428 the robust sacral series extends for 60% of the torso, 34% in Ardeadactylus. In SoS 2428 the dorsal ribs, sternal ribs and gastralia are relatively twice the lengths of those found in Ardeadactylus. The pectoral girdle is gracile in SoS 2428, with a scapula and a coracoid half the width of those same elements in Ardeadactylus. The forelimb (wing) elements are likewise less than half the length and width of those in Ardeadactylus. The wing finger (manual digit 4) is further reduced relative to the rest of the wing. When folded, the unreduced first wing phalanx extends back to the carpus. However, the second wing phalanx is half that length. The third phalanx is half the second and the fourth is less than half the third. Thus, when folded, the distal tip of the reduced wing finger extends just to the elbow. By comparison, in Ardeadactylus the elbow meets the middle of the second wing phalanx and the two distal phalanges nearly double that length. In SoS 2428, the free fingers, digits 1-3, are not reduced. Matching the elongated sacrum in SoS 2428, the hyperelongated ilium extends for 60% of the torso length. However, the much smaller pubis, prepubis, ischium and femur are similar in size to those same elements in Ardeadactylus. In SoS 2428 the distal tibia and pes are not preserved. When reconstructed, SoS 2428 has a relatively longer and wider torso than any other known pterosaur. It also has a reduced wing, half the length and half the chord
of the wing of Ardeadactylus when scaled to the same torso length. Such a reduced wing and enlarged torso make the prospect of flight rather doubtful by comparison. Moreover, with such morphological differences, SoS 2428 is clearly a distinct genus.”

Earlier we discussed this specimen. The poster for the flightless pterosaur included all the detail possible including color photos in high resolution. Tracy Ford was kind enough to put up this poster because I could not attend the SVP symposium. He said a few people walked by saying they did not believe it.

Doubt? Not convinced?
Belief, remember, is in the realm of religion. In Science you can confirm or refute a claim by repeating the experiment or observation. In this case, if you “don’t believe” the traits presented in this abstract, I encourage you to go visit the specimen and apply whatever technique works best at pulling data out. Whatever you get, send it to me. Then we can discuss this together, whether refuting, modifying or confirming the claim here.

Belief, in science, should never part of the equation. If you have evidence refuting this claim, please bring it to my attention. Changes will be made. Otherwise, join the celebration. Finally, we have a flightless pterosaur!

Peters, D 2013. A flightless pterosaur. Journal of Vertebrae Paleontology abstracts 2013.

3 thoughts on “Flightless pterosaur – svp abstracts 2013

  1. You can upload your poster to FigShare so that A) it can be cited and B) more people can see it. There were some common comments I heard about it including the unusual character of the matrix. It would be useful to have the whole poster available for folks to look over. I was hoping for more information besides what was in the abstract.
    Remember that abstract volumes aren’t “published” in the same sense as a full paper. They are grey literature that some journals will not accept as a citation.

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