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New Perspectives on Pterosaur Palaeobiology

Product Code: SP455
Series: GSL Special Publications - print copy
Author/Editor: Edited by D.W.E. Hone, M.P. Witton and D.M. Martill
Publication Date: 18 January 2018
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Special Publication 455

Pterosaurs, the first vertebrates to evolve powered flight, are undergoing a long-running scientific renaissance that has seen sustained, and even elevated interest, from several generations of palaeontologists. These incredible reptiles are known from every continent, flew the Mesozoic skies for at least 160 million years, diversified into more than a dozen major clades and well over 100 species, and included the largest flying animals of all time. This volume brings together leading pterosaur researchers from around the globe to discuss new and cutting-edge research into various aspects of pterosaur palaeobiology and presents diverse papers to deliver new insights on flying reptile palaeoecology, flight, ontogeny, skeletal and soft-tissue anatomy, temporal and spatial distribution and evolution, as well as revisions of their taxonomy and interrelationships.

Published online 24/01/2018. Print copies available from 18/01/2018.

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Type: Book
Ten Digit ISBN:
Thirteen Digit ISBN: 9781786203175
Publisher: GSL
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 238
Weight: 0.89 kg


HONE, D. W. E., WITTON, M. P. & MARTILL, D. M. New perspectives on pterosaur palaeobiology

WITTON, M. P. Pterosaurs in Mesozoic food webs: a review of fossil evidence

HENDERSON, D. M. Using three-dimensional, digital models of pterosaur skulls for the investigation of their relative bite forces and feeding styles

FRIGOT, R. A. Pelvic musculature of Vectidraco daisymorrisae and consequences for pterosaur locomotion

PALMER, C. Inferring the properties of the pterosaur wing membrane

BENNETT, S. C. & PENKALSKI, P. Waves of bone deposition on the rostrum of the pterosaur Pteranodon

CODORNIú, L., CHIAPPE, L. & RIVAROLA, D. Neonate morphology and development in pterosaurs: evidence from a Ctenochasmatid embryo from the Early Cretaceous of Argentina

Lü, J., MENG, Q., WANG, B., LIU, D., SHEN, C. & ZHANG, Y. Short note on a new anurognathid pterosaur with evidence of perching behaviour from Jianchang of Liaoning Province, China

MCLAIN, M. A. & BAKKER, R. T. Pterosaur material from the uppermost Jurassic of the uppermost Morrison Formation, Breakfast Bench Facies, Como Bluff, Wyoming, including a pterosaur with pneumatized femora

VIDOVIC, S. U. & MARTILL, D. M. The taxonomy and phylogeny of Diopecephalus kochi (Wagner, 1837) and ‘Germanodactylus rhamphastinus’ (Wagner, 1851)

HONE, D. W. E., JIANG, S. & XU, X. A taxonomic revision of Noripterus complicidens and Asian members of the Dsungaripteridae

MARTILL, D. M. & MOSER, M. Topotype specimens probably attributable to the giant azhdarchid pterosaur Arambourgiania philadelphiae (Arambourg 1959)

O’SULLIVAN, M. The pterosaur assemblage of the Oxford Clay Formation (Jurassic, Callovian–Oxfordian) from the UK

UNWIN, D. M. & MARTILL, D. M. Systematic reassessment of the first Jurassic pterosaur from Thailand

BENNETT, S. C. A large pterodactyloid pterosaur from the Late Cretaceous Ferron Sandstone of Utah

LEAL, M. E. C., Pêgas, R. V., BONDE, N. & KELLNER, A. W. A. Cervical vertebrae of an enigmatic pterosaur from the Crato Formation (Lower Cretaceous, Araripe Basin, NE Brazil)

DALLA VECCHIA, F. M. A wing metacarpal from Italy and its implications for latest Cretaceous pterosaur diversity

RIGAL, S., MARTILL, D. M. & SWEETMAN, S. C. A new pterosaur specimen from the Upper Tunbridge Wells Sand Formation (Cretaceous, Valanginian) of southern England and a review of Lonchodectes sagittirostris (Owen 1874)



Gordon Neighbour

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.

Colin Morley

The book is a collection of papers presenting aspects of up to date research into pterosaurs. Although I have been taking slightly more than a passing interest in Early Cretaceous Chinese feath- ered avialan and non-avialan theropods, I must confess that I was not aware of most of the research presented in this book. I did not read the book in order. I read it as the papers appealed to me. I did find some of the book a slightly difficult read, but that was because of my failing, not the failings of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed discovering about the enlargement and reshaping of the rostrum as males approached and attained sexual maturity, details of dietary preferences and foraging strategies. In this brief review, I cannot hope to give a summary of all of the research papers in it, but I will pick out a sample of the papers that can serve to ‘give the flavour’ of the book. I chose the first because I have a background in flying and the capabilities of wings is within my ‘comfort zone’.

Colin Palmer looks at the mechanical properties of the pterosaur wing membrane. This subject is not usually an ‘easy read’, but Palmer explains the technical details simply and clearly. Normally pterosaur wing membrane preservation is poor, and the available fossil evidence does not enable reconstruction of its properties. However, the advent of CT scanning has made it pos- sible to construct high-fidelity structural models of the wing because the actual fossil record for the wing bones is relatively good. Using diagrams, drawings and CT scans Palmer manages to explain the discoveries. The mechanical engineers among you can see the methodology if you wish, but I must admit that I largely ignored the occasional equation and just accepted the explanations as presented.

If you like looking at bones, teeth and jaws you will definitely enjoy the presentation of pterosaur finds from the Upper (Late) Jurassic Morrison Formation from Wyoming. M. A. McLain and R. T. Baaker use pictures of the finds, as well as excellent drawings, to explain the finds. No technical mechanics here; it is accessible to anyone with a moderate knowledge of fossils.

In another paper, Stanislas Rigal, David M. Martill and Steven C. Sweetman describe a new pterosaur specimen found in the Upper Tunbridge Wells Formation (Cretaceous) in southern England. This is just the third record of pterosaurs in this formation. As before, the use of photographs as well as excellent illustrations makes it an interesting read. They also include a simple map of the location, with the geology superimposed to give the map a familiar, acces- sible feel, especially as there are simplified stratigraphic columns, too. If the name Sweetman sounds familiar, look up the recent discovery of a mammal in the very earliest Cretaceous rocks in Durlston Bay near Swanage. He identified the teeth and forced a rewrite of the history of mammal evolution.

Many of the other papers describe new finds in various formations. The standard of pictures, illustrations and figures throughout the book is superb. The papers are accessible for someone with an interest in fossils or even the development of flight in birds. I have learned a lot from this book; I intend to read it again and learn even more.

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