Rethinking giant ‘Dracula’ LPB R-2347 as a Q-sized Azhdarcho

Updated March 25, 2020
with the strong possibility that this specimen (chimaera or not) has been named, Albadraco tharmisensis with the holotype specimen number: PSMUBB V651a, b. But that may be a mid-sized specimen, not the giant.

The largest pterosaur model in the world, nicknamed ‘Dracula’
is built on relatively few disassociated parts Fig. 1). The rest is imagined.

Figure 1. Highly speculative reconstruction of large azhdarchid from Romania, nicknamed 'Dracula' based on the few bones shown here.

Figure 1. Highly speculative reconstruction of large azhdarchid from Romania, nicknamed ‘Dracula’ based on the few bones shown here. One source says an ‘upper arm bone” was found. Another states a scapula was found. I will update this if in error here.

Even so,
this chimaera may be close to the real deal, perhaps slightly smaller and more gracile (Fig. 2) 
than the model-builders imagined (Fig. 1). If ‘Dracula’ was indeed a giant (or full grown) Azhdarcho (as  indicated here by matching bits and pieces, Fig. 2), then the skull should have been sculpted with less bone, the stance more erect, the femur shorter, the sternal complex smaller and the distal wing phalanges smaller. With denser bones and shorter wings than volant pterosaurs, ‘Dracula’ would have been flightless, like other azhdarchids with similarly clipped (still imaginary, but compared to Fig. 2) wings.

Figure 2. 'Dracula' elements match those from the much smaller Azhdarcho, here enlarged to the scale of Quetzalcoatlus northropi and Q sp.

Figure 2. ‘Dracula’ elements match those from the much smaller Azhdarcho, here enlarged to the scale of Quetzalcoatlus northropi and Q sp. The imagined torso may be much smaller., the hind limb larger.  Note the large size of the wing-metacarpal joint compared to Q. sp. Don’t trust these chimeric images further than intended here. Lots of guesswork.

Earlier we looked at the cervical #7 of ‘Dracula’.
Here we add the re-identified rostrum (Figs. 2, 3 with a central set of narrow vomers), originally described as a mandible portion. Granted, there is not much to work with here, but everything scales correctly and fits the Azhdarcho pattern. Other suggestions are welcome, by the way.

Figure 2. The former mandible of 'Dracula' here flipped to become a rostrum complete with palatal vomers. Compare to enlarged and to scale images of Azhdarcho rostrum and mandible tips.

Figure 2. The former mandible of ‘Dracula’ here flipped to become a rostrum complete with palatal vomers. Compare to enlarged and to scale images of Azhdarcho rostrum and mandible tips.

Earlier we looked at the purported mandible of LPB R 2347
which was originally imagined as the largest pterosaur ‘mandible‘ (Fig. 3). The authors compared their jaw segment to the mandible of Bakonydraco (Fig. 3). As shown in figure 2, the Romanian fragment is more likely a rostrum belonging to an adult or giant Azhdarcho

FIgure 1. LPB R 2347 largest pterosaur mandible compared to Bakonydraco.

Figure 3. LPB R 2347 was originally imagined as the largest pterosaur ‘mandible’ which the authors compared to Bakonydraco. As shown in figure 2, this is more likely a rostrum belonging to an adult or giant Azhdarcho.

Bakonydraco
nests with volant basal pteranodontids in the LPT. 

Eurazhdarcho
is a coeval mid-sized azhdarchid known from some wing phalanges and three anterior neck cervicals. 


References
Averianov AO 2010. The osteology of Azhdarcho lancicollis (Nessov, 1984) (Pterosauria, Azhdarchidae) from the late Cretaceous of Uzbekistan. Proceedings of the Zoological Institute RAS 314:264-317
Averianov AO 2013. Reconstruction of the neck of Azhdarcho lancicollis and lifestyle of azhdarchids (Pterosauria, Azhdarchidae) Paleontological Journal 47:203-209.
Buffetaut E, Grigorescu D and Csiki Z 2003. Giant azhdarchid pterosaurs from the terminal Cretaceous of Transylvania (western Romania) In: Buffetaut E, Mazin JM, eds. Evolution and palaeobiology of pterosaurs. London: Geological Society Special Publications. Vol. 217:91-104.
Kellner AWA and Langston Jr W 1996. Cranial remains of Quetzalcoatlus (Pterosauria, Azhdarchidae) from Late Cretaceous sediments of Big Bend National Park, Texas. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 16:222-231
Naish D and Witton MP 2017. Neck biomechanics indicate that giant Transylvanian azhdarchid pterosaurs were short-necked arch predators. PeerJ 5:e2908; DOI 10.7717/peerj.2908
Vremir MM 2010.
New faunal elements from the Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) continental deposits of Sebes area (Transylvania). Terra Sebus-Acta Museu Sabesiensis 635–684.
Nessov LA 1984. Upper Cretaceous pterosaurs and birds from central Asia. Paleontology Journal 1984(1):38-49
Vremir M, Kellner AWA, Naish D and Dyke GJ 2013. A new azhdarchid pterosaur from the Late Cretaceous of the Transylvanian Basin, Romania: implications for azhdarchid diversity and distribution. PLOS ONE 8:e54268
Vremir M, Witton M, Naish D, Dyke G, Brusatte SL, Norell M and Totoianu R 2015. A medium-sized robust-necked Azhdarchid Pterosaur (Pterodactyloidea: Azhdarchidae) from the Maastrichtian of Pui (Haţeg Basin, Transylvania, Romania) American Museum Novitates 3827:1-16
Vremir M et al. 2018. Partial mandible of a giant pterosaur from the uppermost Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) of the Haţeg Basin, Romania. Lethaia doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/let.12268 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/let.12268
Witton MP and Naish D 2008.
A reappraisal of azhdarchid pterosaur functional morphology and paleoecology. PLOS ONE 3:e2271

wiki/Albadraco

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