New pterosaur wingtip paper: Hone et al. 2015

We looked at this subject earlier 
here and here as this idea was first presented in an abstract.

A new paper on pterosaur wingtips
(Hone et al. 2015) insists that among all pterosaurs Bellubrunnus > alone < had an inverted curve on its wingtip phalanx, m4.4 (Fig. 1).

The wing tip of Bellubrunnus.

Figure 1. The wing tip of Bellubrunnus. Ghosted image: the in situ fossil. At left, reconstructed wing elements according to Hone et al. (2015) with an anteriorly concave m4.4. This produces an atypical wingtip and a pointed one at that. At right, rotating m4.3+m4.4 to produce a more typical configuration. Note the largest part of the knuckle is typically oriented posteriorly, but not always. The knuckles on m4.3 appear to be oriented anteriorly in situ. Rotating them posteriorly would bring about a more typical orientation of m4.4 despite the appearance of the knuckle of m4.4. This knuckle varies among taxa and varies within this specimen, as the right wing does not have this knuckle.

From the abstract
“Here we examine the evidence for curved wingtips in pterosaurs and evaluate the possible aerodynamic and aeronautical effects. The recently described genus Bellubrunnus provides new anatomical novelty for pterosaurs having anteriorly directed wingtips and thus likely had a different flight profile to all previously known pterosaurs.”

This singular oddity is rather easily explained 
by axial rotation of m4.3 and m4.4 as a unit to match all other pterosaurs (Fig. 1). Phalanx rotation happens often enough in pterosaurs during taphonomy that this isn;t invoking a special dispensation. Not sure why the Hone team did not pick up on this. Autapomorphies (singleton exceptions = novelty) are usually red flags that the interpretation is wrong, as it is here.

I’d like to see the paper if anyone has a pdf of it.

Hone and his followers have come up with some very unusual and falsifiable ideas, as readers are well aware. Not sure how they keep publishing this stuff, and which referees are letting this through, but it keeps me active, this time raiding the archives. On the same note, with these guys refereeing manuscript submissions, you’ll never see the good stuff published.

Hone DWE, Van Rooijen and Habib MB 2015. The wingtips of the pterosaurs: Anatomy, aeronautical function and ecological implications. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (advance online publication) doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2015.08.046


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