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A small azhdarchoid pterosaur from the latest Cretaceous, the age of flying giants

A small azhdarchoid pterosaur from the latest Cretaceous, the age of flying giants
A small azhdarchoid pterosaur from the latest Cretaceous, the age of flying giants
Pterosaur fossils from the Campanian–Maastrichtian of North America have been reported from the continental interior, but few have been described from the west coast. The first pterosaur from the Campanian Northumberland Formation (Nanaimo Group) of Hornby Island, British Columbia, is represented here by a humerus, dorsal vertebrae (including three fused notarial vertebrae), and other fragments. The elements have features typical of Azhdarchoidea, an identification consistent with dominance of this group in the latest Cretaceous. The new material is significant for its size and ontogenetic stage: the humerus and vertebrae indicate a wingspan of ca 1.5?m, but histological sections and bone fusions indicate the individual was approaching maturity at time of death. Pterosaurs of this size are exceedingly rare in Upper Cretaceous strata, a phenomenon commonly attributed to smaller pterosaurs becoming extinct in the Late Cretaceous as part of a reduction in pterosaur diversity and disparity. The absence of small juveniles of large species—which must have existed—in the fossil record is evidence of a preservational bias against small pterosaurs in the Late Cretaceous, and caution should be applied to any interpretation of latest Cretaceous pterosaur diversity and success.
160333
Martin-Silverstone, Elizabeth
4f87b172-3ce1-42d5-ad23-68a48169f2a3
Witton, Mark P.
c77e34da-4e38-4f0a-8e7c-c0ae08146ef5
Arbour, Victoria M.
811808f0-735b-43a3-89eb-7469d2ffc514
Currie, Philip J.
38fccd85-0a07-4fcc-8799-fb11ad0ad52e
Martin-Silverstone, Elizabeth
4f87b172-3ce1-42d5-ad23-68a48169f2a3
Witton, Mark P.
c77e34da-4e38-4f0a-8e7c-c0ae08146ef5
Arbour, Victoria M.
811808f0-735b-43a3-89eb-7469d2ffc514
Currie, Philip J.
38fccd85-0a07-4fcc-8799-fb11ad0ad52e

Martin-Silverstone, Elizabeth, Witton, Mark P., Arbour, Victoria M. and Currie, Philip J. (2016) A small azhdarchoid pterosaur from the latest Cretaceous, the age of flying giants. Royal Society Open Science, 3 (8), 160333. (doi:10.1098/rsos.160333).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Pterosaur fossils from the Campanian–Maastrichtian of North America have been reported from the continental interior, but few have been described from the west coast. The first pterosaur from the Campanian Northumberland Formation (Nanaimo Group) of Hornby Island, British Columbia, is represented here by a humerus, dorsal vertebrae (including three fused notarial vertebrae), and other fragments. The elements have features typical of Azhdarchoidea, an identification consistent with dominance of this group in the latest Cretaceous. The new material is significant for its size and ontogenetic stage: the humerus and vertebrae indicate a wingspan of ca 1.5?m, but histological sections and bone fusions indicate the individual was approaching maturity at time of death. Pterosaurs of this size are exceedingly rare in Upper Cretaceous strata, a phenomenon commonly attributed to smaller pterosaurs becoming extinct in the Late Cretaceous as part of a reduction in pterosaur diversity and disparity. The absence of small juveniles of large species—which must have existed—in the fossil record is evidence of a preservational bias against small pterosaurs in the Late Cretaceous, and caution should be applied to any interpretation of latest Cretaceous pterosaur diversity and success.

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Accepted/In Press date: 20 July 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 31 August 2016
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

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Local EPrints ID: 402318
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/402318
PURE UUID: f0eed16f-6e36-4800-bf3b-aa7b3f4e28cd

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Date deposited: 03 Nov 2016 13:48
Last modified: 09 Jan 2022 02:24

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Contributors

Author: Elizabeth Martin-Silverstone
Author: Mark P. Witton
Author: Victoria M. Arbour
Author: Philip J. Currie

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