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Geoscientist Online

New Perspectives on Pterosaur Palaeobiology

re57There is an English idiom that says ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’: however in this case I would advise the reader to do just that! From the excellent artwork on the front to each of the papers contained within, this is a very high-quality volume. This Geological Society Special Publication has been published to disseminate papers and posters presented at the Flugsaurier 2015 meeting, which was held at the University of Portsmouth. 

It encompasses a wide range of papers on pterosaurs, including work on their taxonomy, behaviour, ecology and relationships. Often in the shadow of the dinosaurs, in terms of the published literature, these papers show that there is a strong research-base for these enigmatic creatures.  The papers are an excellent mixture; some concentrating on the development of our understanding of individual species, others covering their place in the wider Mesozoic world. What is clear is that the world of pterosaur research is alive and well and that despite having the longest research history of any extinct vertebrate group, there is still much to learn.

The discovery of many excellent specimens in lagerstätten in both China and Brazil has undoubtedly led to the recent surge in interest in this vertebrate group.  It would have been easy to allow this volume to have concentrated on some of these spectacular new finds, but the editors are to be congratulated on putting together a balanced volume that has something for everyone who is interested in studying these animals and their place in the Mesozoic.

Depending on one’s own interest, there will be papers that will attract your special attention, whether it be the more systematic palaeontology of a new species or a review of pterosaur skull strengths.  The quality of the diagrams, graphs and images in each of the papers presented is completed to a very high level. This is a book that can be dipped into or can be read through – there genuinely is something for everybody with even a passing interest in palaeontology.  It adds significantly to our knowledge of Mesozoic life, and deserves a wide readership.

Reviewed by Gordon Neighbour

NEW PERSPECTIVES ON PTEROSAUR PALAEOBIOLOGY by D W E HONE, M P WITTON AND D M MARTILL (Eds) 2017 Geological Society Special Publication 455 List Price: £90.00 Fellows’ Price: £45.00  W: www.geolsoc.org.uk/SP455.