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Pterodactylus scolopaciceps Meyer, 1860 (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea) from the Upper Jurassic of Bavaria, Germany: the problem of cryptic pterosaur taxa in early ontogeny.

Vidovic SU, Martill DM - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: P. scolopaciceps is found to be a valid taxon, but placement within Pterodactylus is inappropriate.Consequently, the new genus Aerodactylus is erected to accommodate it.A cladistic analysis demonstrates that Aerodactylus is distinct from Pterodactylus, but close to Cycnorhamphus Seeley, 1870, Ardeadactylus Bennett, 2013a and Aurorazhdarcho Frey, Meyer and Tischlinger, 2011, consequently we erect the inclusive taxon Aurorazhdarchidae for their reception.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Earth and Environmental sciences, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
The taxonomy of the Late Jurassic pterodactyloid pterosaur Pterodactylus scolopaciceps Meyer, 1860 from the Solnhofen Limestone Formation of Bavaria, Germany is reviewed. Its nomenclatural history is long and complex, having been synonymised with both P. kochi (Wagner, 1837), and P. antiquus (Sömmerring, 1812). The majority of pterosaur species from the Solnhofen Limestone, including P. scolopaciceps are represented by juveniles. Consequently, specimens can appear remarkably similar due to juvenile characteristics detracting from taxonomic differences that are exaggerated in later ontogeny. Previous morphological and morphometric analyses have failed to separate species or even genera due to this problem, and as a result many species have been subsumed into a single taxon. A hypodigm for P. scolopaciceps, comprising of the holotype (BSP AS V 29 a/b) and material Broili referred to the taxon is described. P. scolopaciceps is found to be a valid taxon, but placement within Pterodactylus is inappropriate. Consequently, the new genus Aerodactylus is erected to accommodate it. Aerodactylus can be diagnosed on account of a unique suite of characters including jaws containing 16 teeth per-jaw, per-side, which are more sparsely distributed caudally and terminate rostral to the nasoantorbital fenestra; dorsal surface of the skull is subtly depressed rostral of the cranial table; rostrum very elongate (RI = ∼7), terminating in a point; orbits correspondingly low and elongate; elongate cervical vertebrae (approximately three times the length of their width); wing-metacarpal elongate, but still shorter than the ulna and first wing-phalanx; and pteroid approximately 65% of the total length of the ulna, straight and extremely thin (less than one third the width of the ulna). A cladistic analysis demonstrates that Aerodactylus is distinct from Pterodactylus, but close to Cycnorhamphus Seeley, 1870, Ardeadactylus Bennett, 2013a and Aurorazhdarcho Frey, Meyer and Tischlinger, 2011, consequently we erect the inclusive taxon Aurorazhdarchidae for their reception.

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Line drawings of seven skulls belonging to Pterodactylus antiquus (sensu Bennett [2]).A & B) two opposing reconstructions of the holotype of P. kochi (SMF R 404/BSP AS XIX); C) the holotype of Pterodactylus antiquus (BSP AS I 739); D) a large specimen of “Pterodactylus kochi” (BSP 1883 XVI 1); E) Broili (1938) specimen of Pterodactylus scolopaciceps (BSP 1937 I 18); F) the holotype of Pterodactylus scolopaciceps (BSP AS V 29 a/b); G) a small juvenile specimen of Pterodactylus kochi (NHMUK PV R 3949, OUMNH JZ 1609); H) a small juvenile specimen of Pterodactylus kochi (SMF R 4072). Scale bars = 10 mm.
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pone-0110646-g003: Line drawings of seven skulls belonging to Pterodactylus antiquus (sensu Bennett [2]).A & B) two opposing reconstructions of the holotype of P. kochi (SMF R 404/BSP AS XIX); C) the holotype of Pterodactylus antiquus (BSP AS I 739); D) a large specimen of “Pterodactylus kochi” (BSP 1883 XVI 1); E) Broili (1938) specimen of Pterodactylus scolopaciceps (BSP 1937 I 18); F) the holotype of Pterodactylus scolopaciceps (BSP AS V 29 a/b); G) a small juvenile specimen of Pterodactylus kochi (NHMUK PV R 3949, OUMNH JZ 1609); H) a small juvenile specimen of Pterodactylus kochi (SMF R 4072). Scale bars = 10 mm.

Mentions: The taxon Pterodactylus scolopaciceps is often attributed to Meyer 1850 (e.g. [15]). However, this is an error, because Meyer did not erect P. scolopaciceps until 1860. In Meyer’s 1850 paper, he described BSP AS V 29 a/b as an example of P. longirostris Cuvier, 1819 [18], a name that is now regarded as a junior synonym of P. antiquus (Sömmerring, 1812) [3]. In his now classic Fauna der Vorwelt, Meyer (1845–1860) [8] recognised that BSP AS V 29 a/b was distinct from P. longirostris on account of the shape of the dorsal face of the rostrum, and the relative proportions of the wing bones. Accordingly he erected the new species P. scolopaciceps for its reception, the name reflecting its superficial similarity to the Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola), a bird with a very long bill. Wagner (quoted by Zittel [14]) considered the diagnostic features observed in the skull of BSP AS V 29 a/b to be taphonomic artefacts, or even misinterpretations on Meyer’s part. Zittel [14] concluded that P. scolopaciceps was synonymous with P. kochi and further suggested that both could be synonymous with Pterodactylus longirostris ( = P. antiquus). Disregarding Zittel’s [14] synonymy, based on the graphs presented by Wiman [19] and the dorsal slope of the skull, Broili [17] referred a new pterosaur specimen (BSP 1937 I 18) from Eichstätt to P. scolopaciceps (Fig. 2a & Fig. 3e). Later, Wellnhofer [15] re-examined the specimen, referring it to P. kochi, thus accepting Zittel’s [14] synonymy. Subsequent specimens displaying similar morphologies to BSP AS V 29 a/b and BSP 1937 I 18 have also been referred to P. kochi (e.g. the specimen of Frey and Martill [20]).


Pterodactylus scolopaciceps Meyer, 1860 (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea) from the Upper Jurassic of Bavaria, Germany: the problem of cryptic pterosaur taxa in early ontogeny.

Vidovic SU, Martill DM - PLoS ONE (2014)

Line drawings of seven skulls belonging to Pterodactylus antiquus (sensu Bennett [2]).A & B) two opposing reconstructions of the holotype of P. kochi (SMF R 404/BSP AS XIX); C) the holotype of Pterodactylus antiquus (BSP AS I 739); D) a large specimen of “Pterodactylus kochi” (BSP 1883 XVI 1); E) Broili (1938) specimen of Pterodactylus scolopaciceps (BSP 1937 I 18); F) the holotype of Pterodactylus scolopaciceps (BSP AS V 29 a/b); G) a small juvenile specimen of Pterodactylus kochi (NHMUK PV R 3949, OUMNH JZ 1609); H) a small juvenile specimen of Pterodactylus kochi (SMF R 4072). Scale bars = 10 mm.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4206445&req=5

pone-0110646-g003: Line drawings of seven skulls belonging to Pterodactylus antiquus (sensu Bennett [2]).A & B) two opposing reconstructions of the holotype of P. kochi (SMF R 404/BSP AS XIX); C) the holotype of Pterodactylus antiquus (BSP AS I 739); D) a large specimen of “Pterodactylus kochi” (BSP 1883 XVI 1); E) Broili (1938) specimen of Pterodactylus scolopaciceps (BSP 1937 I 18); F) the holotype of Pterodactylus scolopaciceps (BSP AS V 29 a/b); G) a small juvenile specimen of Pterodactylus kochi (NHMUK PV R 3949, OUMNH JZ 1609); H) a small juvenile specimen of Pterodactylus kochi (SMF R 4072). Scale bars = 10 mm.
Mentions: The taxon Pterodactylus scolopaciceps is often attributed to Meyer 1850 (e.g. [15]). However, this is an error, because Meyer did not erect P. scolopaciceps until 1860. In Meyer’s 1850 paper, he described BSP AS V 29 a/b as an example of P. longirostris Cuvier, 1819 [18], a name that is now regarded as a junior synonym of P. antiquus (Sömmerring, 1812) [3]. In his now classic Fauna der Vorwelt, Meyer (1845–1860) [8] recognised that BSP AS V 29 a/b was distinct from P. longirostris on account of the shape of the dorsal face of the rostrum, and the relative proportions of the wing bones. Accordingly he erected the new species P. scolopaciceps for its reception, the name reflecting its superficial similarity to the Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola), a bird with a very long bill. Wagner (quoted by Zittel [14]) considered the diagnostic features observed in the skull of BSP AS V 29 a/b to be taphonomic artefacts, or even misinterpretations on Meyer’s part. Zittel [14] concluded that P. scolopaciceps was synonymous with P. kochi and further suggested that both could be synonymous with Pterodactylus longirostris ( = P. antiquus). Disregarding Zittel’s [14] synonymy, based on the graphs presented by Wiman [19] and the dorsal slope of the skull, Broili [17] referred a new pterosaur specimen (BSP 1937 I 18) from Eichstätt to P. scolopaciceps (Fig. 2a & Fig. 3e). Later, Wellnhofer [15] re-examined the specimen, referring it to P. kochi, thus accepting Zittel’s [14] synonymy. Subsequent specimens displaying similar morphologies to BSP AS V 29 a/b and BSP 1937 I 18 have also been referred to P. kochi (e.g. the specimen of Frey and Martill [20]).

Bottom Line: P. scolopaciceps is found to be a valid taxon, but placement within Pterodactylus is inappropriate.Consequently, the new genus Aerodactylus is erected to accommodate it.A cladistic analysis demonstrates that Aerodactylus is distinct from Pterodactylus, but close to Cycnorhamphus Seeley, 1870, Ardeadactylus Bennett, 2013a and Aurorazhdarcho Frey, Meyer and Tischlinger, 2011, consequently we erect the inclusive taxon Aurorazhdarchidae for their reception.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Earth and Environmental sciences, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
The taxonomy of the Late Jurassic pterodactyloid pterosaur Pterodactylus scolopaciceps Meyer, 1860 from the Solnhofen Limestone Formation of Bavaria, Germany is reviewed. Its nomenclatural history is long and complex, having been synonymised with both P. kochi (Wagner, 1837), and P. antiquus (Sömmerring, 1812). The majority of pterosaur species from the Solnhofen Limestone, including P. scolopaciceps are represented by juveniles. Consequently, specimens can appear remarkably similar due to juvenile characteristics detracting from taxonomic differences that are exaggerated in later ontogeny. Previous morphological and morphometric analyses have failed to separate species or even genera due to this problem, and as a result many species have been subsumed into a single taxon. A hypodigm for P. scolopaciceps, comprising of the holotype (BSP AS V 29 a/b) and material Broili referred to the taxon is described. P. scolopaciceps is found to be a valid taxon, but placement within Pterodactylus is inappropriate. Consequently, the new genus Aerodactylus is erected to accommodate it. Aerodactylus can be diagnosed on account of a unique suite of characters including jaws containing 16 teeth per-jaw, per-side, which are more sparsely distributed caudally and terminate rostral to the nasoantorbital fenestra; dorsal surface of the skull is subtly depressed rostral of the cranial table; rostrum very elongate (RI = ∼7), terminating in a point; orbits correspondingly low and elongate; elongate cervical vertebrae (approximately three times the length of their width); wing-metacarpal elongate, but still shorter than the ulna and first wing-phalanx; and pteroid approximately 65% of the total length of the ulna, straight and extremely thin (less than one third the width of the ulna). A cladistic analysis demonstrates that Aerodactylus is distinct from Pterodactylus, but close to Cycnorhamphus Seeley, 1870, Ardeadactylus Bennett, 2013a and Aurorazhdarcho Frey, Meyer and Tischlinger, 2011, consequently we erect the inclusive taxon Aurorazhdarchidae for their reception.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus