Friday, March 22, 2013

[Paleontology • 2013] The Largest flying reptile from Gondwana: a new specimen of Tropeognathus cf. T. mesembrinus Wellnhofer, 1987 (Pterodactyloidea, Anhangueridae) and other large pterosaurs from the Romualdo Formation, Lower Cretaceous


Reconstruction of the world’s largest southern hemisphere pterosaur, Tropeognathus.
displayed in Rio de Janeiro National Museum, Brazil, on March 20, 2013

Abstract

A very large pterosaur (MN 6594-V) from the Romualdo Formation (Aptian/Albian), Santana Group, Araripe Basin, is described. The specimen is referred to Tropeognathus cf. T. mesembrinus mainly due to the presence of a low and blunt frontoparietal crest, the comparatively low number of teeth and the inclined dorsal part of the occipital region. Two distinct wingspan measurements for pterosaurs are introduced: the maximized wingspan (maxws), which essentially consists of doubling the addition of all wing elements and the length of the scapula or the coracoid (the smaller of the two), and the normal wingspan (nws), which applies a reducing factor (rfc) to the maximized wingspan to account for the natural flexures of the wing. The rfc suggested for pteranodontoids is 5%. In the case of MN 6594-V, the maxws and nws are 8.70 m and 8.26 m, respectively, making it the largest pterosaur recovered from Gondwana so far. The distal end of a larger humerus (MCT 1838-R) and a partial wing (MPSC R 1395) are also described showing that large to giant flying reptiles formed a significant part of the pterosaur fauna from the Romualdo Formation. Lastly, some comments on the nomenclatural stability of the Santana deposits are presented.

Key words: Pterosauria, Anhangueridae, Tropeognathus, Cretaceous, Gondwana.

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Giant pterosaur fossil unveiled in Brazil

The fossilized remains of a huge prehistoric flying reptile was unveiled at the Rio de Janeiro National Museum where an international congress on the extinct species is to be held in May.

"What makes it particularly special is that it is the most complete fossil ever found, with virtually the entire skeleton and even the skull preserved," said Alexander Kellner, a paleontologist of the Rio Federal University as he presented a life-size mock-up of the pterosaur or "winged lizard." The creature has a wingspan of 8.2 meters (27 feet).

The fossil, attributed to the "Tropeognathus mesembrinus" species, was found in the Chapada do Araripe plateau of northeastern Brazil.

Kellner described it as "the biggest ever found in the southern hemisphere and the third worldwide."

Rio Ptero 2013
 
International Symposium on Pterosaurs
(Simpósio Internacional sobre Pterossauros)

"We can prove that these giant reptiles flew in the skies of northeast Brazil much earlier than initially thought because fossils were found in rock formations dating 110 million years," according to Kellner.

He said it was previously thought that pterosaurs lived at the end of the Cretaceous period, some 72 to 86 million years ago.

Pterosaur species have been found in places like Morocco, Britain, Mongolia, the United States, China and northeastern Brazil.

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Kellner, Alexander W. A. et al. 2013. The largest flying reptile from Gondwana: a new specimen of Tropeognathus cf. T. mesembrinus Wellnhofer, 1987 (Pterodactyloidea, Anhangueridae) and other large pterosaurs from the Romualdo Formation, Lower Cretaceous. Brazil. An. Acad. Bras. 85(1), 113-135. 

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