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These huge flying reptiles, characterized by their crescent-shaped crests on their elongated beaks, were scattered around the world millions of years ago.
A new study not only describes a new species in the UK, but characterizes and analyzes the kinship relationships of the Anhangüéridae, a lineage of large toothed pterosaurs.
Thepterosaurs, one of the most iconic groups of extinct vertebrates, ruled the skies when dinosaurs still walked the face of the earth.
Among them, one of the most striking lineages were theanhangüéridos, which were characterized by their enormous wingspan - from 3 to 8.5 meters -, long and sharp teeth and a large head with a peculiar crescent-shaped crest at the distal end of its elongated beak.
Its fossils have been found in Australia, Brazil, China, Morocco, the Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles.
Among these last specimens are the oldest known Anhangüérido species, such asColoborhynchus clavirostris, Aerodraco sedgwickii orNicorhynchus capito. However, due to the fragmentation of the remains, very little was known about these British pterosaurs.
A new study, published in the journalActa Paleontologica Polonica, not only sheds light on its characterization of these reptiles –which are included in the Coloborhynchinae lineage– and the kinship relationships between them and with other non-coloborrinquin anhangüéridae, but also describes a new species of coloborrinquino, baptized asUktenadactylus rodriguesae, in honor of the Brazilian paleontologist Taissa Rodrigues, who differentiated the generaUktenadactylus YColoborhynchu.
Found on the Isle of Wight, a small island in southern England, famous for having some of the richest cliffs and dinosaur quarries in Europe, the fossil is a small remnant of the tip of thepeak, whose characteristics allow it to be classified unequivocally within the genusUktenadactylus, a coloborrinchin taxon that until now was considered exclusive to North America.
Greater understanding of pterosaurs
Thanks to this new approach, with special emphasis on Coloborrinchians, paleontologistsBorja Holgado, researcher associated with the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP), and Rodrigo Pêgas have changed the view on thekinship relations not only among this lineage of Anhangüéridae of the northern hemisphere, but also of the large species of the southern hemisphere such asTropeognathus, Ferrodraco orMythunga, which are now related in the new cladeTropeognathinae.
Among the tropeognathines, there is the largest known Anhangüérid,Tropeognathus mesembrinus, a Brazilian species that exceeded 8.5 meters in wingspan.
Holgado, B. and Pêgas, R.V. 2020. "A taxonomic and phylogenetic review of the anhanguerid pterosaur group Coloborhynchinae and the new clade Tropeognathinae”. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. DOI: 10.4202 / app.00751.2020