PterosaurHeresies 2016 – a quick review

On this last day in 2016
I’m pleased to report the large reptile tree (LRT) went from about 600 taxa in January to 907 today, the largest jump in the 6 years it has been up. Most of these were birds and mammals. This new total does not include the 200+ pterosaurs and 60+ therapsids in satellite trees, some duplicated in the LRT. Revised constantly, the LRT is stronger now than at any prior time with less average phylogenetic distance between sisters than ever before.

Some of the reptiles we met in 2016:

  1. January was chiefly a dinosaur/theropod month, but ended with Bunostegos, a pareiasaur key to understanding turtle origins.
  2. Februarychanges come to the tyrannosauroidea.
  3. March – lots of lizards, but also a reader favorite: bat wing origins. And this poignant post featuring John Ostrom. A second flightless pterosaur.
  4. AprilFlapping before flight hypothesis re-re-re-confirmed.
  5. May – The true shape of the Atopodentatus skull was published. A new ichthyosaur mimic discovered.
  6. JuneTridentinosaurus traced and nested. A new stem snake: Tetrapodophis! And then there’s Vaughnictis, the last common ancestor of birds and bats in the LRT.
  7. July – Started hitting mammals hard, starting with the elephant. Tenrecs are odontocete whale ancestors!
  8. August – A Jurassic ancestor to rodents and multituberculates.
  9. SeptemberVintana nested with wombats. Goodbye Notoungulata.
  10. OctoberCarpolestes leaves the Primates. Two kinds of elephant shrews. Goodbye Cetacea!
  11. NovemberBehemotops and the Mysticeti. Ozimek not a sharovipterygid and not a glider.
  12. December – The aye-aye is not a primate. Indricotheres may be giant and hornless, but they are not rhinos.

Thank you
for your readership and your comments. Suggestions are always welcome.

As I’ve said before,
every taxon I approach and discuss I do so without prior knowledge. I learn as I go. Fortunately I have an increasingly powerful tool in the large reptile tree that keeps on working despite being ‘overstuffed’ with taxa.

Not sure what 2017 will bring,
but I imagine posts will be less frequent as most of the key amniote/reptile taxa have been covered by now. Hopefully several more PhDs will re-discover relationships that were first discovered and published here years ago, as several did this year. That’s a sign that the LRT is doing something right. I’m happy to see us all coming together in consensus, even if it takes awhile.

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