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A new pterosaur (Pterodactyloidea: Azhdarchidae) from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco.

Ibrahim N, Unwin DM, Martill DM, Baidder L, Zouhri S - PLoS ONE (2010)

Bottom Line: We assign additional fragmentary jaw remains, some of which have been tentatively identified as azhdarchid and pteranodontid, to this new taxon which is distinguished from other azhdarchids by a remarkably straight, elongate, lance-shaped mandibular symphysis that bears a pronounced dorsal eminence near the posterior end of its dorsal (occlusal) surface.Most remains, including the holotype, represent individuals of approximately three to four meters in wingspan, but a fragment of a large cervical vertebra, that probably also belongs to A. saharica, suggests that wingspans of six meters were achieved in this species.This, the relatively large size achieved by Alanqa, and the additional evidence of variable jaw morphology in azhdarchids provided by this taxon, indicates a longer and more complex history for this clade than previously suspected.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Nizar.Ibrahim@ucd.ie

ABSTRACT
The Kem Kem beds in South Eastern Morocco contain a rich early Upper (or possibly late Lower) Cretaceous vertebrate assemblage. Fragmentary remains, predominantly teeth and jaw tips, represent several kinds of pterosaur although only one species, the ornithocheirid Coloborhynchus moroccensis, has been named. Here, we describe a new azhdarchid pterosaur, Alanqa saharica nov. gen. nov. sp., based on an almost complete well preserved mandibular symphysis from Aferdou N'Chaft. We assign additional fragmentary jaw remains, some of which have been tentatively identified as azhdarchid and pteranodontid, to this new taxon which is distinguished from other azhdarchids by a remarkably straight, elongate, lance-shaped mandibular symphysis that bears a pronounced dorsal eminence near the posterior end of its dorsal (occlusal) surface. Most remains, including the holotype, represent individuals of approximately three to four meters in wingspan, but a fragment of a large cervical vertebra, that probably also belongs to A. saharica, suggests that wingspans of six meters were achieved in this species. The Kem Kem beds have yielded the most diverse pterosaur assemblage yet reported from Africa and provide the first clear evidence for the presence of azhdarchids in Gondwana at the start of the Late Cretaceous. This, the relatively large size achieved by Alanqa, and the additional evidence of variable jaw morphology in azhdarchids provided by this taxon, indicates a longer and more complex history for this clade than previously suspected.

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Pterosaur localities in the Kem Kem region of South Eastern Morocco.A) Map of Africa and satellite map of the Hamada Kem Kem and Maider region showing principal pterosaur localities. Inset: location of Kem Kem in Morocco. B) Boumerade locality (30° 32 ′49.00″ N 4° 42′ 55.45″ E), which includes most of the lower unit of the Kem Kem beds and just over one third of the upper unit (Sereno et al. 1996). Fossils were collected from areas marked by arrows, consisting of a sandstone matrix in a ∼2 m thick horizon. C) Pterosaur jaw tip found at Boumerade, scale bar 2 cm. D) Typical red sandstone cross bedding, found at the Aferdou N'Chaft (30° 53′ 51.23″ N 3° 52′ 13.42″) locality for example. E) Surface collecting in the sandstone outcrops of the Gara Sbaa locality (30° 30′ 40.64″ N 4° 50 42.87″ E).
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pone-0010875-g001: Pterosaur localities in the Kem Kem region of South Eastern Morocco.A) Map of Africa and satellite map of the Hamada Kem Kem and Maider region showing principal pterosaur localities. Inset: location of Kem Kem in Morocco. B) Boumerade locality (30° 32 ′49.00″ N 4° 42′ 55.45″ E), which includes most of the lower unit of the Kem Kem beds and just over one third of the upper unit (Sereno et al. 1996). Fossils were collected from areas marked by arrows, consisting of a sandstone matrix in a ∼2 m thick horizon. C) Pterosaur jaw tip found at Boumerade, scale bar 2 cm. D) Typical red sandstone cross bedding, found at the Aferdou N'Chaft (30° 53′ 51.23″ N 3° 52′ 13.42″) locality for example. E) Surface collecting in the sandstone outcrops of the Gara Sbaa locality (30° 30′ 40.64″ N 4° 50 42.87″ E).

Mentions: The pterosaur fossil record from Africa is one of the least known for any continental land mass. This can largely be attributed to poor sampling – a consequence of the remoteness of many localities and political instability in several Saharan and sub-Saharan countries. With the exception of the pterosaur assemblage from the Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous Tendaguru beds of Tanzania [1]–[3], there have been remarkably few finds in the southern half of the continent [4], [5], and several of these [6], [7] have yet to be verified (Yates pers comm. 2008). The northern half has yielded a greater array of pterosaur localities [8]–[13], with the single most important finds from the early Upper Cretaceous Kem Kem beds of Morocco (Figure 1, Table 1).


A new pterosaur (Pterodactyloidea: Azhdarchidae) from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco.

Ibrahim N, Unwin DM, Martill DM, Baidder L, Zouhri S - PLoS ONE (2010)

Pterosaur localities in the Kem Kem region of South Eastern Morocco.A) Map of Africa and satellite map of the Hamada Kem Kem and Maider region showing principal pterosaur localities. Inset: location of Kem Kem in Morocco. B) Boumerade locality (30° 32 ′49.00″ N 4° 42′ 55.45″ E), which includes most of the lower unit of the Kem Kem beds and just over one third of the upper unit (Sereno et al. 1996). Fossils were collected from areas marked by arrows, consisting of a sandstone matrix in a ∼2 m thick horizon. C) Pterosaur jaw tip found at Boumerade, scale bar 2 cm. D) Typical red sandstone cross bedding, found at the Aferdou N'Chaft (30° 53′ 51.23″ N 3° 52′ 13.42″) locality for example. E) Surface collecting in the sandstone outcrops of the Gara Sbaa locality (30° 30′ 40.64″ N 4° 50 42.87″ E).
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2877115&req=5

pone-0010875-g001: Pterosaur localities in the Kem Kem region of South Eastern Morocco.A) Map of Africa and satellite map of the Hamada Kem Kem and Maider region showing principal pterosaur localities. Inset: location of Kem Kem in Morocco. B) Boumerade locality (30° 32 ′49.00″ N 4° 42′ 55.45″ E), which includes most of the lower unit of the Kem Kem beds and just over one third of the upper unit (Sereno et al. 1996). Fossils were collected from areas marked by arrows, consisting of a sandstone matrix in a ∼2 m thick horizon. C) Pterosaur jaw tip found at Boumerade, scale bar 2 cm. D) Typical red sandstone cross bedding, found at the Aferdou N'Chaft (30° 53′ 51.23″ N 3° 52′ 13.42″) locality for example. E) Surface collecting in the sandstone outcrops of the Gara Sbaa locality (30° 30′ 40.64″ N 4° 50 42.87″ E).
Mentions: The pterosaur fossil record from Africa is one of the least known for any continental land mass. This can largely be attributed to poor sampling – a consequence of the remoteness of many localities and political instability in several Saharan and sub-Saharan countries. With the exception of the pterosaur assemblage from the Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous Tendaguru beds of Tanzania [1]–[3], there have been remarkably few finds in the southern half of the continent [4], [5], and several of these [6], [7] have yet to be verified (Yates pers comm. 2008). The northern half has yielded a greater array of pterosaur localities [8]–[13], with the single most important finds from the early Upper Cretaceous Kem Kem beds of Morocco (Figure 1, Table 1).

Bottom Line: We assign additional fragmentary jaw remains, some of which have been tentatively identified as azhdarchid and pteranodontid, to this new taxon which is distinguished from other azhdarchids by a remarkably straight, elongate, lance-shaped mandibular symphysis that bears a pronounced dorsal eminence near the posterior end of its dorsal (occlusal) surface.Most remains, including the holotype, represent individuals of approximately three to four meters in wingspan, but a fragment of a large cervical vertebra, that probably also belongs to A. saharica, suggests that wingspans of six meters were achieved in this species.This, the relatively large size achieved by Alanqa, and the additional evidence of variable jaw morphology in azhdarchids provided by this taxon, indicates a longer and more complex history for this clade than previously suspected.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Nizar.Ibrahim@ucd.ie

ABSTRACT
The Kem Kem beds in South Eastern Morocco contain a rich early Upper (or possibly late Lower) Cretaceous vertebrate assemblage. Fragmentary remains, predominantly teeth and jaw tips, represent several kinds of pterosaur although only one species, the ornithocheirid Coloborhynchus moroccensis, has been named. Here, we describe a new azhdarchid pterosaur, Alanqa saharica nov. gen. nov. sp., based on an almost complete well preserved mandibular symphysis from Aferdou N'Chaft. We assign additional fragmentary jaw remains, some of which have been tentatively identified as azhdarchid and pteranodontid, to this new taxon which is distinguished from other azhdarchids by a remarkably straight, elongate, lance-shaped mandibular symphysis that bears a pronounced dorsal eminence near the posterior end of its dorsal (occlusal) surface. Most remains, including the holotype, represent individuals of approximately three to four meters in wingspan, but a fragment of a large cervical vertebra, that probably also belongs to A. saharica, suggests that wingspans of six meters were achieved in this species. The Kem Kem beds have yielded the most diverse pterosaur assemblage yet reported from Africa and provide the first clear evidence for the presence of azhdarchids in Gondwana at the start of the Late Cretaceous. This, the relatively large size achieved by Alanqa, and the additional evidence of variable jaw morphology in azhdarchids provided by this taxon, indicates a longer and more complex history for this clade than previously suspected.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus