Oculudentavis: First 3D skull of pterosaur precursor discovered with skin!!!

That could have been the spectacular headline
circulating ’round the world now about Oculudentavis (Fig. 1, Xing et al. 2020), the tiny (1.4cm) skull found in Early Cretaceous Burmese amber.

Figure 1. Oculudentavis in amber much enlarged. See figure 2 for actual size.

Figure 1. Oculudentavis in amber much enlarged. See figure 2 for actual size.

Smallest Mesozoic dinosaur skull discovered”
is also pretty exciting, but it’s not true, as noted in yesterday’s post.

Figure 1. Cosesaurus insitu. No bones are present. This is a natural mold that includes an amorphous blob, a jellyfish, that trapped one foot of this unique specimen.

Figure 2. Middle Triassic Cosesaurus insitu. No bones are present. This is a natural mold that includes an amorphous blob, a jellyfish, that trapped one foot of this unique specimen.

Why was the Middle Triassic sister taxon Cosesaurus
(Ellenberger and DeVillalta 1974; Fig. 2) not on the radar of Oculudentavis authors Xing et al. 2020?

You can thank
the current crop of pterosaur experts who have ignored and omitted this taxon and others (Peters 2000a, b, 2002, 2007, 2009; Fig. 3) for the last twenty years in their unprofessional efforts to retain an invalidated hypothetical relationship of pterosaurs to unspecified archosaurs, dinosaurs, phytosaurs, erythrosuchids or basal bipedal crocodylomorphs like Scleromochlus, depending on which author you study. Dr. John Ostrom remarked on the snails’ pace of paleontology as it slowly came to accept the dinosaurian origin of birds in the 1980s that was clearly documented in the 1870s. It also took a long time to raise the dragging tails of dinosaurs in museum mounts, despite the lack of drag marks in dinosaur tracks.

Worse yet,
those workers are adversely influencing the next generation of pterosaur artists and experts.

The lineage of pterosaurs recovered from the large reptile tree. Huehuecuetzpalli. Cosesaurus. Longisquama. MPUM 6009.

Figure 3. The lineage of pterosaurs recovered from the large reptile tree. Huehuecuetzpalli. Cosesaurus. Longisquama. MPUM 6009 (now Bergamodactylus). Oculudentavis is a late-surviving sister to Cosesaurus.

It comes down to taxon exclusion, as usual.
Between 1974 and 2000 it used to be by accident or oversight. Now and for the last two decades, taxon exclusion has been part of the plan. We discussed this problem earlier here.

Yesterday Oculudentavis became
the 1656th taxon added to the large reptile tree (LRT).

PS
Four pterosaur precursors preserve skin/filaments/extradermal membranes or impressions of same, but all are crushed specimens.


References
Ellenberger P and de Villalta JF 1974. Sur la presence d’un ancêtre probable des oiseaux dans le Muschelkalk supérieure de Catalogne (Espagne). Note preliminaire. Acta Geologica Hispanica 9, 162-168.
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. In D. Hone ed. Flugsaurier. The Wellnhofer pterosaur meeting, 2007, Munich, Germany. p. 27.
Peters D 2009. A reinterpretation of pteroid articulation in pterosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 29: 1327-1330
Xing L, O’Connor JK,; Schmitz L, Chiappe LM, McKellar RC, Yi Q and Li G 2020. Hummingbird-sized dinosaur from the Cretaceous period of Myanmar. Nature. 579 (7798): 245–249.

wiki/Oculudentavis

Cosesaurus_aviceps_Sharovipteryx_mirabilis_and_Longisquama_insignis_Reinterpreted

 

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