Wednesday, June 12, 2013

[Paleontology • 2013] Taxonomic review of the Ornithocheirus complex (Pterosauria) from the Cretaceous Cambridge Greensand of England

The holotypes of the species recognized as valid by the researchers, put to the same scale, illustrate how diverse this pterosaur fauna was.


Over a decade after the last major review of the Cambridge Greensand pterosaurs, their systematics remains one of the most disputed points in pterosaur taxonomy. Ornithocheiridae is still a wastebasket for fragmentary taxa, and some nomenclatural issues are still a problem. Here, the species from the Cretaceous of England that, at some point, were referred in Ornithocheirus, are reviewed. Investigation of the primary literature confirmed that Criorhynchus should be considered an objective junior synonym of Ornithocheirus

Taxonomic review of more than 30 species known from fragmentary remains showed that 16 of them are undiagnosable (nomina dubia): Palaeornis cliftii, Cimoliornis diomedeus, Pterodactylus compressirostris, Pterodactylus fittoni, Pterodactylus woodwardi, Ornithocheirus brachyrhinus, Ornithocheirus carteri, Ornithocheirus crassidens, Ornithocheirus dentatus, Ornithocheirus enchorhynchus, Ornithocheirus eurygnathus, Ornithocheirus oxyrhinus, Ornithocheirus scaphorhynchus, Ornithocheirus tenuirostris, Ornithocheirus xyphorhynchus, and Pterodactylus sagittirostris. Fourteen species are considered valid, and diagnoses are provided to all of them: Ornithocheirus simus, Lonchodraco giganteus comb. n., Lonchodraco machaerorhynchus comb. n., Lonchodraco(?) microdon comb. n., Coloborhynchus clavirostris, ‘Ornithocheiruscapito, Camposipterus nasutus comb. n., Camposipterus(?) sedgwickii comb. n., Camposipterus(?) colorhinus comb.n., Cimoliopterus cuvieri comb. n., ‘Ornithocheiruspolyodon, ‘Ornithocheirusplatystomus, ‘Pterodactylusdaviesii, and ‘Ornithocheirusdenticulatus. These species are referred in the genera Ornithocheirus, Lonchodraco gen. n., Coloborhynchus, Cimoliopterus gen. n., and Camposipterus gen. n., but additional genera are probably present, as indicated by the use of single quotation marks throughout the text. 

A cladistic analysis demonstrates that Anhangueridae lies within a newly recognized clade, here named Anhangueria, which also includes the genera Cearadactylus, Brasileodactylus, Ludodactylus, and Camposipterus. The anhanguerian ‘Cearadactylusligabuei belongs to a different genus than Cearadactylus atrox. Lonchodraconidae fam. n. (more or less equivalent to Lonchodectidae sensu Unwin 2001) is a monophyletic entity, but its exact phylogenetic position remains uncertain, as is the case of Ornithocheirus simus. Therefore, it is proposed that Ornithocheiridae should be constricted to its type species and thus is redundant. Other taxa previously referred as “ornithocheirids” are discussed in light of the revised taxonomy.

Rodrigues T, Kellner AWA 2013. Taxonomic review of the Ornithocheirus complex (Pterosauria) from the Cretaceous of England. ZooKeys .308 (Special issue): 1-112. doi:

High diversity of flying reptiles in England 110 million years ago
Brazilian paleontologists Taissa Rodrigues, of the Federal University of Espirito Santo, and Alexander W. A. Kellner, of the National Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, have just presented the most extensive review yet available of toothed pterosaurs from the Cretaceous of England. The study features detailed taxonomic information, diagnoses and photographs of 30 species and was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.