A longer snout for “Rhamphodactylus”

Earlier we looked at a new specimen (BSPG 2011 I 133) that was promoted without being given a new genus or species. It was nicknamed, “Rhamphodactylus,” because it seemed to bridge the gap between Rhamphorhynchus and Pterodactylus (or long tails and short tails, if you wish).

I looked for the mandible
It was there, but I didn’t see it. Phylogenetic analysis revealed several apparent autapomorphies (like antorbital fenestra covers the majority of the rostrum). So, I took another look and found faint traces of the missing elements after enhancing the contrast with Photoshop (Fig. 1). See if you can see them. This is where you need to dig into the matrix to reveal the bones.

Figure 1. Revealing the anterior rostrum and mandible in "Rhamphodactylus". This completes the specimen (see figure 2).

Figure 1. Revealing the anterior rostrum and mandible in “Rhamphodactylus”. This completes the specimen (see figure 2).

So with these additions, the reconstruction of “Rhamphodactylus” is essentially complete and far fewer autapomorphies plague its nesting in the analysis.

Figure 2. "Rhamphodactylus" reconstruction. While it looks like a Pterodactylus, it nests between Dorygnathus and protoazhdarchids.

Figure 2. “Rhamphodactylus” reconstruction. While it looks like a Pterodactylus, it nests between Dorygnathus and protoazhdarchids.

This is indeed something of a transitional taxon, but transitional between Dorygnathus + the tiny TM10341 and Beipiaopterus, at the base of the protoazhdarchid line. The skull of “Rhampodactylus” is likely a good substitute for the missing skull of Beipiaopterus.

References
Rauhut OWM 2012. Ein “Rhamphodactylus” aus der Mörnsheim-Formation von Mühlheim. Freunde der Bayerischen Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Historische Geologie e.V., Jahresbericht und Mitteilungen 01/2012; 40:69-74.  online here.

News story in German

 

 

 

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