Perching Sharovipteryx

Figure 1. Sharovipteryx in various perching attitudes.

Figure 1. Sharovipteryx in various perching attitudes. Note the pancake-flat torso, the deep prepubis, the stunted pterosaur-like hands and all that soft tissue! This gracile bipedal sprinter was also a hind-wing glider after leaping into the air with those large hind limbs. This is also how small pterosaurs launched from tree trunks, with wings outstretched and powered aloft by a hind limb launch.

Sharovipteryx mirabilis (Sharov 1971) is the famous hind wing glider.

Wikipedia consideres it “a genus of early gliding reptiles.” and “Sharovipteryx is generally agreed to belong to a group of early archosaur relatives known as the protorosaurs (or prolacertiformes).”

In this age of phylogenetic analysis
such a general description is very disheartening, especially considering that four phylogenetic analyses from 15 years ago allied Sharovipteryx to Cosesaurus, Longisquama and pterosaurs (Peters 2000). Very little work has been done on this genus since then. No one has attempted a precise tracing and, of course, no one has attempted a reconstruction from that tracing. I’ll show you some new reconstructions and tracings over the next few days but you can preview them here.

Over the past decade
I have attempted to publish additional data that repaired earlier mistakes. Unfortunately every such attempt was rejected, often for vacuous reasons. This is one more such instance.

Over the next few days
we’ll take a look at the latest tracings and reconstructions from those rejected manuscripts. Here (Fig. 2), for starters, is a new reconstruction of the foot based on the in situ specimen. The original was in color and segregated using DGS.

Figure 2. Sharovipteryx foot, in situ and reconstructed.

Figure 2. Sharovipteryx foot, in situ and reconstructed. Note digit 1 is dislocated toward the ankle. Digits 2-4 likewise have their distal phalanges jammed proximally past their metatarsals. Parallel interphalangeal lines show that phalanx sets worked as sets, flexing and extending at the same line.

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].
Tatarinov LP 1989. [The systematic position and way of life of the problematic Upper Triassic reptile Sharovipteryx mirabilis.] Paleo. Zh. 1989(2): 110-112. [in Russian].
Tatarinov LP 1994. Terestrial vertebrates from the Triassic of the USSR with comments on the morphology of some reptiles. In: Mazin J.-M. & Pinna G. (Eds.) Evolution, ecology and biogeography of the Triassic reptiles. Paleo. LombNew Ser. 2.
Unwin DM, Alifanov VR and Benton MJ 2000. Enigmatic small reptiles from the Middle-Late Triassic of Kyrgyzstan. In: Benton M.J., Shishkin M.A. & Unwin D.M. (Eds) The Age of Dinosaurs in Russia and Mongolia. Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press: 177-186.




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