The origin of pterosaurs delayed…

In Peters 2000
pterosaurs were found to be indisputably derived from the fenestrasaurs, Longisquama, Sharovipteryx and Cosesaurus in order of increasing distance.

In Peters 2007
pterosaurs (and other fenestrasaurs) were found to be indisputably derived from a new clade of lepidosaurs, including Huehuecuetzpalli.

In Peters 2011–2018
more taxa (up to 1253 at last count) cemented those relationships. Other works, cited below, further cement those relationships.

Switek 2018 reported,
“We’ve cataloged plenty of species, with more named every year, but understanding how they [pterosaurs] fit into the Mesozoic world has eluded us.”

This, dear readers,
is called suppression. Perhaps Dr. SC Bennett (personal communication) said it best, “You won’t get published and if you do get published, you won’t be cited.” What other science is like this?

Dr. J. Ostrom, famous for his bird origin work, lamented the same problem. 
According to the Hartford Courant (2000), “In 1973, Ostrom broke from the scientific mainstream by reviving a Victorian-era hypothesis (see above) that his colleagues considered far-fetched: Birds, he said, evolved from dinosaurs. And he spent the rest of his career trying to prove it.” With the announcement of the first dinosaurs with feathers from China, Ostrom (then age 73) was in no mood to celebrate. He is quoted as saying, ““I’ve been saying the same damn thing since 1973, `I said, `Look at Archaeopteryx!’” Ostrom was the first scientist to collect physical evidence for the theory. Ostrom provoked a debate that raged for decades. “At first they said, `Oh John, you’re crazy,”’ Ostrom said in 1999.”

So, it’s not just me. It’s paleontology.
For readers thinking about getting into this field, here’s fair warning. And I’m going to call it out every time I see it, just like John Ostrom did.

Peters D 2000a. Description and Interpretation of Interphalangeal Lines in Tetrapods.  Ichnos 7:11-41.
Peters D 2000b. A Redescription of Four Prolacertiform Genera and Implications for Pterosaur Phylogenesis. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia 106 (3): 293–336.
Peters D 2002. A New Model for the Evolution of the Pterosaur Wing – with a twist 
Historical Biology 15: 277-301
Peters D. 2007. The origin and radiation of the Pterosauria. Flugsaurier. The Wellnhofer Pterosaur Meeting, Munich 27
Peters D 2009. A reinterpretation of pteroid articulation in pterosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 29: 1327-1330
Peters D 2011. A Catalog of Pterosaur Pedes for Trackmaker Identification
Ichnos 18(2):114-141.
Peters D 2011–2018. and
Switek B. 2018.

Hartford Courant (2000)

2 thoughts on “The origin of pterosaurs delayed…

  1. But Ostrom actually understood the anatomy he was working with and followed phylogenetic procedures that were acceptable at the time, hence he got published. Do you really think that a century from now, paleontologists will think Mesozoic theropods had tiny complete pedal digit Vs, modern birds have postfrontals and Confuciusornis had a ton of little teeth? Or that suprageneric molecular phylogenetics will be abandoned and biologists will think you just need full taxonomic coverage for 228 morphological characters to solve all phylogenetic issues?

    • You’re asking me to predict the future (or bend to your hypnotic will). No one I know can do this a century from now. Suprageneric molecular phylogenetics have been abandoned by some workers (quoted in the next few days). Even with Ostrom’s credentials (and Huxley’s credentials) the bird dinosaur link took forrrreeevvvvver to be accepted. And you’re missing the big picture. 228 multistage characters have, so far, resolved all phylogenetic issues. That’s a fact. All errors and omissions are my own.

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