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A new pterodactyloid pterosaur from the Wessex Formation (Lower Cretaceous) of the Isle of Wight, England


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A new pterosaur specimen comprising a partial skull and associated postcranial elements from the Lower Cretaceous Wessex Formation of Yaverland, Isle of Wight, southern England, is assigned to a new genus and species of ornithocheirid pterosaur, Caulkicephalus trimicrodon gen. et sp. nov., based on several unique features including a heterodont dentition in which the fifth, sixth and seventh teeth are reduced in size compared with those at positions 1–4 and 8–9; the presence of a frontoparietal crest and maxillopremaxillary crest that do not unite over the antorbital fenestra or cranium; a palatal ridge that extends no further forward than the eighth to ninth tooth pairs. The new taxon is the second species of pterosaur from the Wealden Group of the Wessex Basin.
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A new pterodactyloid pterosaur from the Wessex Formation
(Lower Cretaceous) of the Isle of Wight, England
Lorna Steel
, David M. Martill
*, David M. Unwin
, John D. Winch
Dinosaur Isle Museum, Culver Parade, Sandown, Isle of Wight PO36 8QA, UK
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Burnaby Building, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth PO1 3QL, UK
Institut fu
¨r Pala
¨ontologie, Museum fu
¨r Naturkunde, Zentralinstitute der Humboldt-Universita
¨t zu Berlin,
Invalidenstraße 43, D-10115 Berlin, Germany
Rowena, St. John’s Road, Wroxall, Isle of Wight, UK
Received 14 July 2004; accepted in revised form 23 March 2005
A new pterosaur specimen comprising a partial skull and associated postcranial elements from the Lower Cretaceous Wessex
Formation of Yaverland, Isle of Wight, southern England, is assigned to a new genus and species of ornithocheirid pterosaur,
Caulkicephalus trimicrodon gen. et sp. nov., based on several unique features including a heterodont dentition in which the fifth, sixth
and seventh teeth are reduced in size compared with those at positions 1e4 and 8e9; the presence of a frontoparietal crest and
maxillopremaxillary crest that do not unite over the antorbital fenestra or cranium; a palatal ridge that extends no further forward
than the eighth to ninth tooth pairs. The new taxon is the second species of pterosaur from the Wealden Group of the Wessex Basin.
Ó2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Reptilia; Pterosauria; Caulkicephalus; Early Cretaceous; Wealden Group; England
1. Introduction
Pterosaurs are rare in the Wealden Group of the UK
with only three described species currently considered
valid: Coloborhynchus clavirostris Owen, 1874 and
?Lonchodectes sagittirostris (Owen, 1874) from the
Hastings Sand Formation of Hastings, Sussex and
Istiodactylus latidens (Seeley, 1901) from the Vectis
Formation of the Isle of Wight (Unwin et al., 2000;
Howse et al., 2001; Unwin, 2001). Other named taxa
[‘‘O. clifti’’ (Mantell, 1844) and ‘‘O. curtus’’ (Owen,
1870) from the Wealden of Sussex and ‘‘Ornithocheirus
nobilis’’ (Owen, 1870) from the Wealden of the Isle of
Wight] are considered nomina dubia, because they are
based on non-diagnostic features (Howse et al., 2001).
Only the distinctive Istiodactylus latidens is known from
the Isle of Wight Wealden Group, and the two speci-
mens that can definitely be assigned to this taxon
(CAMMZ T707, BMNH R3877) both appear to have
come from the lagoonal sediments of the Vectis
Formation (Hooley, 1913; Howse et al., 2001).
Fragmentary, often indeterminate remains of pter-
osaurs, some possibly referable to the Ornithocheiridae,
have previously been reported from the Wessex Forma-
tion (Martill et al., 1996). These include a partial
postcranial skeleton (MIWG 5579) from the Wealden
Group, an isolated ornithocheirid tooth (MIWG 5318)
from the Vectis Formation of Barnes High, Isle
of Wight, a similar tooth from the Wessex Formation
of Yaverland (MIWG 2756), and the proximal part of
a left humerus in the collections of the Natural History
* Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: (L. Steel), david.mar- (D.M. Martill).
0195-6671/$ - see front matter Ó2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Cretaceous Research -- (2005) 1e13
Museum, London (BMNH R558), that was only
tentatively referred to Ornithocheirus by Lydekker
(1888). A considerable amount of well-preserved and
potentially diagnosable material has also been reported
from several private collections on the island (Green,
The new material described here represents the first
specifically identifiable pterosaur to have been discov-
ered in the Wessex Formation. It comprises parts of
a skull and possibly associated postcranial remains that
were discovered on the foreshore near Yaverland,
Sandown, Isle of Wight, throughout 2002 (some
material was obtained as early as 1995 by one of us:
JDW) by several independent collectors on a number of
separate occasions. Most of the material was found
loose on the beach, but one wing element, a quadrate
and an indeterminate long bone were found in situ.
Several bones in private collections, including one
element figured by Green (1995, p. 23, specimen number
0037JW), that come from the same locality may also
belong to this individual (JDW, pers. obs.). The material
described here is housed in the Dinosaur Isle Museum at
Sandown, Isle of Wight, under accession numbers
IWCMS 2002.189.1e4, 2002.233, 2002.234, 2002.236,
and 2003.2e4.
Abbreviations for institutions referred to in the text.
BMNH, the Natural History Museum, London;
CAMMZ, Cambridge University Museum of Zoology;
MIWG and IWCMS, Isle of Wight County Museum
Service at Dinosaur Isle, Sandown, Isle of Wight.
2. Locality and stratigraphy
The new specimen was found on foreshore exposures
of the Wessex Formation that are revealed from time to
time at Yaverland on the north-east end of Sandown
Bay, Isle of Wight (National Grid reference SZ 614852;
Fig. 1). This locality is one of two coastal areas on the
island where the Wessex Formation is exposed in cliffs
and wave-cut platforms (Fig. 1A). Active erosion results
in continuous new exposures, but landslips, especially
during the winter months, can make visits dangerous
while mudslides and beach sands can obscure outcrops.
At the time of writing, much of the wave cut platform at
Yaverland was covered by sand.
The section exposed at Yaverland comprises the upper
part of the Wessex Formation and the overlying Vectis
Formation of the Wealden Group, with younger beds,
representing a marine transgression, exposed to the
north-east of the bay (Fig. 2). Here the Wessex Formation
is of Barremian (Early Cretaceous) age, and comprises
a series of variegated mudstones with intermittent fluvial
sandstones, silty clays and occasionally plant debris beds.
The sequence represents a meander-belt floodplain
system with pond and ephemeral lake deposits (White,
1921; Stewart, 1981; Radley, 1994; Wright et al., 2000).
The plant debris beds are known for their abundant and
often extremely well preserved macro- and micro-
vertebrate remains, including dinosaurs, crocodilians,
turtles, amphibians, mammals and fishes (Martill and
Naish, 2001). The new pterosaur was obtained from one
of the plant debris beds (Bed 33 of Radley, 1994).
Typically, the plant debris beds are patchily cemented by
nodular siderite, contain abundant intraclasts and a high
percentage of plant remains ranging from leaf fragments
to logs several metres in length. Both lignite and fusain
occur. Pyrite, siderite, calcite and barite are common
diagenetic minerals but, unfortunately, the pyrite is
unstable and prone to decay in damp conditions. The
plant debris beds are believed to be the result of
intrabasinal flood events that transported plant debris
and carcasses, depositing them on the floodplains (Martill
Isle of Wight
Wealden Group outcrop A
Fig. 1. Locality map showing the Cretaceous fossil vertebrate locality
of Yaverland, Isle of Wight. In A, the shading represents outcrops of
the Wealden Group. In B, the Yaverland Member (new name) is
indicated as a black line in the cliffs and foreshore. The X marks the
new pterosaur site.
2L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
and Naish, 2001). Many of the skeletons are disrupted,
possibly as a result of scavenging (Martill, 2001).
3. Preservation
The bones of the present specimen are black and well
preserved although there is a small amount of compac-
tion damage in places. A small area of compacta is
missing from the surface of the rostrum tip. Some parts
of the bones are coated with a thin layer of iron pyrite,
but most void space is filled with cemented mudstone
(Figs. 3e5). A small amount of grey mudstone with
abundant black plant debris has been left on one of the
bones to confirm the provenance of the specimen. The
surface of one bone is pitted, possibly as a result of
pyrite growth, although bioerosion may be responsible.
Fig. 2. Schematic stratigraphic section for the Wessex and Vectis formations at Yaverland, near Sandown, Isle of Wight, locating the horizon of
Caulkicephalus trimicrodon gen. et sp. nov. with an asterisk; simplified from Radley (1994).
3L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
Some of the damaged surfaces are a consequence of
recent marine erosion.
Several of the skull fragments fit together and clearly
come from a single individual. It is assumed that the
remaining skull fragments, including a braincase found
in very close proximity to the holotype, and various
portions of postcranial skeleton obtained from the same
locality, all belong to the same individual. Although
there is no direct fit to confirm this, this proposal is
supported by several lines of evidence: the bones all
came from the same site; there is no duplication of
bones; they exhibit the same style of preservation; they
are completely consistent in size; and there is no
indication of the presence of more than one taxon.
4. Systematic palaeontology
Pterosauria Kaup, 1834
Pterodactyloidea Plieninger, 1901
Ornithocheiridae Seeley, 1870
Genus Caulkicephalus gen. nov.
Fig. 3. Rostrum of Caulkicephalus trimicrodon gen. et sp. nov., IWCMS 2002.189.1, 2. A, dorsal view. B, right lateral view. C, ventral view; D,
anterior view. Scale bar represents 10 mm.
4L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
Derivation of name. Caulk; from Caulkhead, the
informal name for natives of the Isle of Wight: workers
from the Isle of Wight previously worked as caulkers in
the Solent dockyards; and cephalus, Greek, head.
Diagnosis. As for type and only known species (see
autapomorphies listed for type species below).
Caulkicephalus trimicrodon gen. et sp. nov.
Figs. 3e6
Derivation of specific name. A combination of tri,
three; micro, tiny and don, tooth, referring to the small
dental alveoli at tooth positions 5e7.
Fig. 4. Braincase of IWCMS 2002.189.3 and quadrate referred to Caulkicephalus trimicrodon gen. et sp. nov. Braincase in A, dorsal view, B, left
lateral view, C, posterior view, D, ventral view. E, left quadrate, (IWCMS 2003.2). Scale bar represents 10 mm.
5L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
Holotype. IWCMS 2002.189.1, 2, 4, three contiguous
elements that form the anterior portion of the rostrum
(Fig. 3AeD).
Type locality and horizon. North-east Sandown Bay,
Yaverland, Isle of Wight (Fig. 1); upper part of Wessex
Formation, Lower Cretaceous (Barremian) (Fig. 2).
Referred material. Incomplete braincase bearing the
base of a sagittal crest (IWCMS 2002.189.3; Fig. 4Ae
D); left quadrate (IWCMS 2003.2; Fig. 4E); a fragment
of a possible jugal (IWCMS 2003.4); proximal part of
the left wing-phalanx 1 (ICWMS 2002.237; Fig. 5A);
four contiguous fragments of the shaft of a wing-
phalanx 1 (IWCMS 2002.234.1e4; Fig. 5C); distal part
Fig. 5. Other elements referred to Caulkicephalus trimicrodon gen. et sp. nov. A, proximal part of the left wing-phalanx 1, ICWMS 2002.237. B, distal
part of probable wing-phalanx 2, IWCMS 2002.233. C, four contiguous fragments of the shaft of wing-phalanx 1, IWCMS 2002.234.1e4. D, an
element possibly from the hind limb, IWCMS 2003.3. E, cross section of phalange showing cortical bone and spongiosa. Scale bars represent 10 mm:
left scale bar for A, B, D, E; right scale bar for C.
6L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
of wing-phalanx ?2 (IWCMS 2002.233; Fig. 5B); frag-
ment of shaft of wing-phalanx ?4 (IWCMS 2002.236)
and an element possibly from the hind limb (IWCMS
2003.3; Fig. 5D).
Diagnosis. Ornithocheirid pterosaur in which
the maxillopremaxillary suture descends slightly posteri-
orly; the fifth to seventh pair of dental alveoli are
significantly smaller than pairs 1e4and8e10, and the
palatal ridge extends no further anteriorly than dental
alveoli 8 and 9. Uniquely for the Ornithocheiridae this taxon
possesses both frontoparietal and maxillopremaxillary
crests and these do not merge over the nasoantorbital
fenestra or cranium.
5. Description
The holotype consists of three contiguous fragments
of the rostrum (Fig. 3, Table 1). These three pieces fit
together to form the anterior part of the rostrum and
include parts of the premaxillae and maxillae extending
posteriorly to a position that terminates just prior to the
anterior margin of the nasoantorbital fenestra. The
margin of the nasoantorbital fenestra is not preserved,
but an arc of crushed bone suggests that the margin of
this fenestra may have been close to the edge of the
preserved section. A fourth bone fragment, an in-
complete braincase, is presumed to belong to the same
individual as the rostral material (see ‘‘Preservation’’
5.1. Rostrum
The preserved part of the rostrum is 290 mm in length
and is laterally compressed for most of its length,
though some of this may in part be exaggerated by slight
compaction, as indicated by numerous small cracks. It
is 30 mm wide at the second tooth pair, narrowing to
20 mm in width between tooth pairs 9e10. It then
expands in width posteriorly until it reaches a breadth of
42 mm at tooth pair 14. The dorsal margin of the
Fig. 6. Drawings of the holotype rostrum of Caulkicephalus trimicrodon gen. et sp. nov., IWCMS 2002.189.1, 2, 4 in right lateral view (A, C) and
palatal view (B, D).
Table 1
Selected measurements of Caulkicephalus trimicrodon gen. et sp. nov.
from the Wessex Formation (Lower Cretaceous, Barremian) of the Isle
of Wight
Skull elements
Rostrum (three pieces combined)
Width of palate at third tooth pair 30 mm
Width of palate at ninth tooth pair 24 mm
Width of palate at fourteenth tooth pair 38 mm
Estimated length of rostrum from anteriortiptomarginofnasoantorbital
fenestra 300 mm
Height of rostrum at lowest point between maxillo/premaxillary crest
and cranium 36 mm
Postcranial elements
Posterior segment of proximal end of first phalanx of left wing IWCMS
2002.237 (as preserved)
Length of fragment 44 mm
Width 30 mm
Depth 19 mm
Compacta thickness 0.2e0.8 mm
Portion of wing-phalanx 1 IWCMS 2002.234.1e4 (as preserved)
Length 245 mm
Width 29 mm
Depth 14 mm
Compacta thickness 0.5e2.5 mm
Distal portion of wing-phalanx ?2 IWCMS 2002.233 (as preserved)
Length 64 mm
Width proximally 30 mm
Width distally 30 mm
Depth 15 mm
Compacta thickness 0.1e0.2 mm
7L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
rostrum descends towards the anterior tip of the jaw
and, as is in other ornithocheirids, the section anterior to
the fifth pair of dental alveoli is transversely expanded to
accommodate the first four pairs of large fang-like teeth
(Unwin, 2001).
A premaxillary crest is present, but it is damaged and
much of its dorsal margin is missing. The crest does not
extend to the anterior tip of the snout, but commences
a short distance posterior to it, level with the third
alveolar pair. Several small nutritive foramina are visible
on both lateral margins of the rostrum. They are evenly
distributed; otherwise the surface of the bone is smooth.
The posterior most fragment of the rostrum (IWCMS
2002.189.4) measures 126 mm in length and is tapered,
widening from 23 mm anteriorly to 38 mm posteriorly.
Ventrally, it comprises the palate and dental borders,
and bears a medial palatal ridge along its entire length.
The dorsal surface is arcuate as it rises both anteriorly
towards the maxillopremaxillary crest and posteriorly
towards the cranium. The maxillopremaxillary suture is
well defined on the left side. It is straight and extends
The anterior tip of the palate begins to curve upwards
from a point just behind the second alveolus, at an angle
that gradually increases to about 80 from the
horizontal. The dorsal margin of the rostrum arcs
ventrally to meet the ventral margin forming a rounded
anterior tip. The posterior part of the palate is encrusted
with a thin coating of pyrite approximately 0.25e0.5 mm
thick, but the median palatal ridge is clearly seen despite
the pyrite coating. This ridge is not very pronounced and
is not visible in lateral view. It is present on the posterior
portion of the palatal surface, but becomes less pro-
nounced anteriorly and disappears completely between
the eighth and ninth alveoli.
The gradual upturn of the palate towards the tip of
the rostrum means that the first two pairs of tooth
sockets point anteroventrally, while the remaining
alveoli are orientated ventrolaterally in the alveolar
margin and the posterior most alveoli point ventrally.
The interalveolar areas are gently concave while the
rims of the alveoli project beyond the palatal surface.
The palatal surface bears several paired nutritive
foramina between the first four pairs of alveoli. The
two foramina in each pair are linked by a groove that is
5e6 mm long. There is a small pit just posterior to the
first alveolus on the right side. Whether this is
a pathological feature, a nutritive foramen, or recent
damage is uncertain, but a similar, though medially
located pit, is seen in the ornithocheirid Coloborhynchus
wadleighi (Lee, 1994).
The dental alveoli vary greatly in size, but are all
approximately oval, with the longest diameter orientated
anteroposteriorly. The first pair are of slightly different
sizes (Table 2), the left being only slightly larger than the
right. The second pair is substantially larger than the first
pair, while the third pair, only preserved on the right side,
is the largest in the entire dental series. The fourth pair,
again only preserved on the right side, is substantially
smaller than the third and similar in size to the first pair.
There is very little space between consecutive alveoli in
this part of the rostrum: the interalveolar area is 4 mm
between alveoli 2 and 3, but less than half this distance
between alveoli 1 and 2 and between alveoli 3 and 4.
The first four pairs of dental alveoli are followed by
three smaller alveoli that, again, are only preserved on
the right side of the rostrum. The fifth pair of alveoli are
less than half the anteroposterior width of the third,
while the sixth and seventh are of almost the same size
and slightly smaller than the fifth (Table 2). The space
between consecutive alveoli in this group is almost
equivalent to the length of individual alveoli. Posterior
to the seventh pair of alveoli there is a marked increase
in size with the eighth to tenth pairs of similar
dimensions and almost reaching the size of the first pair
of alveoli. These alveoli are also widely spaced; on
the right side alveoli 8 and 9 are separated by a gap
equivalent to one and one-half alveoli while the gap
between alveoli 9 and 10 on the right side is equivalent
to two alveoli, that on the left slightly less. Toward the
anterior end of the rostrum the left and right alveoli of
each pair are approximately parallel to one another, but
in the region of the ninth and tenth alveoli they become
increasingly staggered, those on the left side lying
slightly anterior to those on the right side.
The tips of replacement teeth are visible in the first
and ninth alveoli on the right side. They are oval in cross
section and pointed. Immediately posterior to the tenth
alveolus the specimen is broken. The third part of the
rostrum bears four alveoli on the left side and four on
the right side (alveoli 11e14) but they are not arranged
in pairs. These alveoli are elongate, the best preserved
measuring 7 !4mm (Figs. 3, 6), and with a long axis
sub-parallel to the dental border.
5.2. Referred braincase
The braincase (IWCMS 2002.189.3) consists of the
frontals, parietals, the supraoccipital and possibly dorsal
Table 2
Maximum diameters of the first ten pairs of dental alveoli (in mm)
Tooth pair Left Right
10 e9e10
8L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
portions of the prootics, opisthotics and exoccipitals, all
fused into a solid, largely uncrushed and undistorted
box-like structure, in which all former bone contacts and
sutures appear to be obliterated (Figs. 4AeD, 8).
The ventral part of the braincase, composed of the
basioccipital and parts of the prootics and opisthotics, is
broken away and this fracture extends anteriorly
through the upper part of the orbits. The outer margins
of the braincase are eroded and the cranial crest is
broken off at its base (see below).
In dorsal view the braincase is seen to expand
laterally over the orbits, but then is strongly constricted
posterior to this region before expanding again to form
the occipital plate. The upper part of the inner wall of
the orbits appears to have been ossified (possibly by the
The braincase bears evidence of a frontoparietal
crest. The base of the crest begins anteriorly at a point
between the orbits, and extends backwards along the
midline, but is separated from the occipital plate by
a small notch. The base of the crest seems to have been
widest just behind the orbits and its orientation suggests
that originally it extended posterodorsally. The left and
right sides of the base of the crest are approximately
parallel to each other, with some posterodorsally
directed divergence, and the crest is 7 mm thick at its
point of fracture. A little more posteroventrally the crest
is only 2 mm thick. Thus it seems likely that the crest
was relatively tall, narrow and posterodorsally directed,
as in Pteranodon and Ludodactylus (Frey et al., 2003).
The occipital plate has thin margins and now has
a relatively tall, narrow, pentangular outline, but may
have been much broader when complete. The plate is
slightly dished, concave both transversely and vertically
and has a low, vertically orientated median ridge.
Ventrally the plate is broken away along the dorsal
margin of the foramen magnum.
5.3. Quadrate
The left quadrate (IWCMS 2003.2) has a slightly
crushed dorsal region, but is well preserved ventrally.
The articulatory surface is 18 mm wide (Fig. 4E).
5.4. Postcranial skeleton
An incomplete wing phalanx 1 consists of four
contiguous pieces (IWCMS 2002.234.1e4; Fig. 5C,
Table 1). The bone is slightly dorsoventrally crushed,
but its original cross section was clearly an elongate
oval. Pyrite and mudstone completely fill the large
lumen of the bone and no trabeculae are visible on any
of the broken surfaces. The compacta is generally thin
(0.5 mm in places), but thickens to as much as 2.5 mm at
one end of the oval, which probably corresponds to the
anterior margin of the bone as observed in more
complete examples of ornithocheirids. The surface of
the bone is remarkably smooth, but bears two small
nutritive foramina that open on the better-preserved
(probably ventral) side of the phalanx.
A short section of a large bone (ICWMS 2002.237) is
identified as the posterior portion of the proximal end of
the left wing-phalanx 1 (Fig. 5A). Both ends and one
side are broken. The distal section reveals a loose
network of very fine trabeculae, none of which
completely crosses the lumen, just beneath the compac-
ta. The thickness of the compacta varies from approx-
imately 0.2e0.8 mm (Fig. 5E). The proximal region of
the bone exhibits a dense spongiosa typical of the
internal bone structure at an articulation. A small part
of the articular surface is still preserved and bears a deep
sulcus in which lie two pneumatic foramina. The
preserved dorsal surface is flat.
The distal part of another wing-phalanx (IWCMS
2002.233; Fig. 5B) is too narrow to represent wing-
phalanx 1, and probably represents part of a wing-
phalanx 2. The bone is slightly crushed and cannot be
assigned to a particular wing. Its surface is rather fibrous
and distally it has an unfinished appearance lacking the
compacta and exposing the bony trabeculae. This may
indicate that this particular part of the skeleton was still
growing, though in the braincase a lack of clearly visible
sutures suggests a nearly mature individual. It is difficult
to determine the thickness of the compacta at the
broken end, but it appears to be approximately 0.1e
0.2 mm thick.
A piece of wing-phalanx (IWCMS 2002.236), possi-
bly representing wing-phalanx 4, has a compacta
ranging from 0.2 to 0.5 mm in thickness. Again, the
thickest compacta are found in the vertices of the oval
cross section. A few tiny trabeculae are visible immedi-
ately beneath one area of the compacta, but they do not
span the entire width of the lumen. The smooth surface
of the bone is marked by clusters of shallow, irregular
pits ranging from 0.3 mm to approximately 2.0 mm in
diameter, while the majority are around 0.8 mm. They
may be a consequence of bioerosion or the diagenetic
ingrowth of pyrite aggregates.
Two small pieces of compacta with an underlying
trabecular mesh were also recovered. They are both
from the thickened margin of a long bone, but do not fit
with any other preserved parts of the skeleton. Their
value lies in that they show the three-dimensional
structure of trabeculae in pterosaur long bones. What
appears to be a network of bars when viewed in a two-
dimensional surface, such as a transverse break or a thin
section, is actually a system of closely opposed tubes
running parallel to the long axis of the bone. This
‘tubular’ system is located between the compacta and
the open lumen.
9L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
6. Relationships to other pterosaurs
Assignment of Caulkicephalus to Ornithocheiridae is
supported by several synapomorphies including well-
established diagnostic features of the rostrum and
dentition (Bakhurina and Unwin, 1995; Unwin, 1995,
2001, 2002, 2003). As in other ornithocheirids, the
anterior end of the rostrum of Caulkicephalus is
transversely expanded, narrowest in the region of the
fifth tooth pair and widens again posteriorly. The size
distribution in the dentition shows a distinctive double
peak, with the largest teeth occurring at position three
and around position nine, and the smallest at position
five. Caulkicephalus also exhibits several characters that
appear to be restricted to ornithocheiroids (Istiodacty-
lus C(Ornithocheiridae CPteranodontia)). These in-
clude the presence of a low, bony sagittal crest with
a smooth dorsal margin on the rostrum and a narrow,
laterally compressed, posterodorsally directed, fronto-
parietal sagittal crest (though not certainly a synapo-
morphy of the Ornithocheiroidea; the crests of genera
included within Ornithocheiroidea differ structurally
from crests encountered in Azhdarchoidea) (NB:
Unwin, 2003 lists ‘‘tall, narrow frontal crest’’ as
a synapomorphy of Pteranodontia, though this feature
was reported by Frey et al., 2003 for the ornithocheirid
Ludodactylus. This feature may be synapomorphic for
the Euornithocheira but was secondarily lost in some
Caulkicephalus differs from Istiodactylus, the best
known Isle of Wight pterosaur (Howse et al., 2001),
which has a dorsoventrally compressed rostrum that
superficially resembles a duck’s beak and has labiolin-
gually compressed, triangular teeth (Hooley, 1913;
Howse et al., 2001). Istiodactylus is clearly distinct
from Caulkicephalus, as are the edentulous pterano-
dontians (Pteranodontidae CNyctosaurus) from the
Upper Cretaceous of North and South America
(Wellnhofer, 1991).
The ornithocheirid and ornithocheiroid characters
cited above also show that Caulkicephalus cannot be
assigned to any of the other three major pterodacty-
loid clades: Dsungaripteroidea (Germanodactylidae C
Dsungaripteridae), Azhdarchoidea (Tapejara C(Tu-
puxuara CAzhdarchidae)) and Ctenochasmatoidea
(Cycnorhamphus C(Pterodactylus CLonchodectidae C
Ctenochasmatidae). Dsungaripteroids have edentulous
jaw tips and short, squat teeth in swollen alveoli that are
largest toward the caudal end of the tooth row while
azhdarchoids are toothless. Generally, ctenochasmatoids
have relatively large numbers of teeth of sub-equal size
but, in one case, Cearadactylus, the dentition is similar to
that of ornithocheirids (Unwin, 2002). However, it is
unlikely that this taxon and Caulkicephalus share a close
relationship because Cearadactylus has a very distinctive
step in the ventral profile of the rostrum (Leonardi and
Borgomanero, 1985), and the rostrum has a low lateral
profile anteriorly, unlike that of Caulkicephalus, in which
the rostrum is as deep as it is wide. Cearadactylus also
lacks several key ornithocheiroid apomorphies, but
shares a number of characters in common with cteno-
chasmatoids (see Unwin, 2002, for full discussion).
6.1. Comparison with other ornithocheirids
Several taxa are currently included within the
Ornithocheiridae, though the validity of some remains
in doubt. Unwin (2001, 2003), in a systematic revision of
the Ornithocheiridae, included the genera Anhanguera,
Brasileodactylus,Coloborhynchus,Haopterus and Orni-
thocheirus.Frey et al. (2003) considered Anhanguera to
be a possible junior synonym of Coloborhynchus (see
also Unwin, 2001, 2002) and proposed a new genus,
Ludodactylus, to accommodate an ornithocheirid from
the Aptian Crato Formation of Brazil that lacks
a premaxillary crest, but possesses a pteranodontid-like
parietal crest. Frey and Martill (1994) also consider
Arthurdactylus from the Crato Formation (Lower
Cretaceous, Aptian) of Brazil to belong within the
Ornithocheiridae, an assignment tentatively supported
by Unwin (2003), but this taxon is known only from
postcranial remains. Here comparisons are made with
those taxa in which the skull, or at least the rostrum, is
preserved (Fig. 7).
Ornithocheirus, known from the Santana Formation
of Brazil (Wellnhofer, 1987; Fastnacht, 2001) and the
Cambridge Greensand of England (Unwin, 2001)is
distinguished from all other ornithocheirids by the
vertical orientation of even the anteriormost teeth, the
absence of any anterior upcurving of the palate and
the development of a large sagittal premaxillary crest,
with a flat anterior face, that is situated on the anterior
tip of the rostrum (Wellnhofer, 1987; Unwin, 2001). Not
one of these characters is present in the new pterosaur
material from Yaverland and it cannot be assigned to this
taxon. All other ornithocheirids in which the rostrum is
preserved, including Caulkicephalus, show some degree
of upcurving of the palate anteriorly, and an anteroven-
tral orientation of at least the first two pairs of teeth.
Haopterus, from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning
Province, China (Wang and Lu
¨, 2001), appears to be
distinct from Caulkicephalus because in the former tooth
pairs 5e7 show a marked increase in size (Wang and Lu
2001), whereas in the latter they are subequal in size. In
addition, the gaps between tooth positions are distinctly
greater in Haopterus, and this ornithocheirid also lacks
a sagittal rostral crest or frontoparietal crest (Wang and
¨, 2001), although this could be attributed to sexual
dimorphism (Bennett, 1992) or the relative immaturity
of the single known specimen of Haopterus gracilis
compared to the single known example of Caulkicepha-
lus trimicrodon.
10 L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
Ludodactylus, from the Crato Limestone Formation
of Brazil (Frey et al., 2003) and the Yaverland pterosaur
share one unique character in common when compared
with other ornithocheirids, namely the presence of
a narrow, posterodorsally directed frontoparietal crest,
though quite how tall it was in Caulkicephalus cannot be
established. This structure is absent in some ornitho-
cheiroids (Istiodactylus) or not known, but present in the
pteranodontians Pteranodon (Bennett, 2001) and Nyc-
tosaurus (Bennett, 2003). Currently, character state
optimisations do not support a single origin for this
character; thus it appears to have arisen independently
in Ornithocheiridae and Pteranodontia (Unwin, 2003),
but further exploration of relationships within Ornitho-
cheiroidea is needed to establish this more firmly.
Ludodactylus and Caulkicephalus also exhibit remark-
ably similar patterns of size distribution in the dentition,
but are distinguished by the presence, in Ludodactylus,
of a relatively large tooth pair at position seven, greater
spacing between tooth positions 1e7, a less abrupt and
more modest degree of upturn of the palate, the anterior
projection of the first three rather than just the first two
pairs of teeth, a maxillo/premaxillary suture that meets
the dorsal border of the nasoantorbital fenestra and the
absence of a sagittal crest on the rostrum (Frey et al.,
The Yaverland pterosaur exhibits numerous similar-
ities to the nexus of species currently assigned to
Coloborhynchus and Anhanguera. The degree of upturn
of the palate is identical to that seen in many of these
species, although an even greater degree of upturn is
seen in some species of Coloborhynchus (e.g. Owen,
1874; Lee, 1994; Fastnacht, 2001). Patterns of tooth size,
spacing and orientation (Kellner and Tomida, 2000;
Fastnacht, 2001) are also remarkably similar, although
only in Caulkicephalus is tooth pair 7 of similar size to
5 and 6. Caulkicephalus is also distinguished by the
discontinuation, anteriorly, of the median ridge on the
palate, in contrast to species of Coloborhynchus/Anhan-
guera where typically it extends forward to at least
the fourth tooth pair (Wellnhofer, 1987, 1991; Lee,
1994; Unwin, 2001). Unlike Caulkicephalus, where the
Fig. 7. Dental alveolar morphologies of pterosaurs. These diagrams are schematic and aim to show the distribution of large, medium-sized and small
teeth in each taxon. Horizontal lines indicate points of upward flexure of the palatal surface. Data taken mainly from Kellner and Tomida (2000);
Fastnacht (2001); Unwin (2001) and Wang and Lu
11L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
maxillo/premaxillary suture trends toward the ventral
margin of the nasoantorbital fenestra, in Coloborhyn-
chus and Anhanguera this suture meets the dorsal border
of the fenestra (e.g., Kellner and Tomida, 2000).
6.2. Summary
The new Yaverland pterosaur is undoubtedly an
ornithocheirid, and similar to several species that belong
to this family. However, it lacks distinguishing features
of all genera currently included in this taxon and
represented by cranial material, but exhibits a number
of characters (maxillo/premaxillary suture descends
slightly posteriorly, fifth to seventh pair of dental alveoli
of similar size and significantly smaller than pairs one to
four; palatal ridge extends no further anteriorly than
dental alveoli 8 and 9; and presence of fronto/parietal
and maxillo/premaxillary crests that do not merge over
the nasoantorbital fenestra or cranium) that are not
found in any other ornithocheirid. Consequently, we
assign this taxon to a new genus and species of the
In addition to their uncertain taxonomic status, several
taxa currently assigned to Ornithocheiridae, including
Caulkicephalus, are too poorly known for their interre-
lationships to be resolved with any certainty. Moreover,
few, if any, of the character states discussed above that
occur in more than one genus show clear cut patterns of
distribution or some degree of correlation. Clearly, more
complete specimens and much work will be needed to
disentangle the systematics of ornithocheirids.
7. Discussion
Previous findings (Martill et al., 1996) hinted at the
presence of ornithocheirids in the Wessex Formation
(Barremian), and this is now confirmed by the discovery
of C. trimicrodon. Ornithocheirids have already been
widely reported from the Lower Cretaceous of Western
Europe (Unwin et al., 2000, table 1; Unwin, 2001),
although not with any certainty from the Barremian.
This new record fills that gap and further encourages the
idea that ornithocheirids were present in Western
Europe throughout the Early Cretaceous.
An unusual feature of the material described here is its
discovery in a plant bed deposited within a fluvial
continental setting. Most ornithocheirids have been
recovered from marginal or fully marine sediments
(Unwin, 2001, table 1) and they are thought to have
had a life style broadly similar to that of some modern
ocean-going birds such as the Albatross and Frigate
Bird. This record of an ornithocheirid preserved in
a continental environment adds to other recent reports of
these pterosaurs from similar settings (Unwin et al.,
2000; Unwin, 2001), although it is still not clear if
these represent accidental occurrences or indications that
some ornithocheirids lived in terrestrial environments.
Only one other pterosaur, Istiodactylus latidens, has
so far been reported from the Isle of Wight and,
at present, is only certainly known from the Vectis
Formation (Martill and Naish, 2001). Recently, Mr.
S. Sweetman recovered a small, laterally compressed,
triangular tooth crown with thin enamel from a plant
debris bed within the Wessex Formation that may be
referable to Istiodactylus. If this preliminary identifica-
tion is verified it would suggest that species of
Caulkicephalus and Istiodactylus may have been sym-
patric, which is reasonable in that the dentition of these
taxa is markedly different and hints at quite distinct and
specialised life styles.
We especially thank Master Dan Davies and his
family, Gavin Leng, Tom Winch, Claire Winch, Martin
New and Martin Munt for finding the remains of the new
pterosaur. We are grateful to Mick Green, Steve Hutt,
Martin Munt, Michael Fastnacht, Natasha Bakhurina,
Darren Naish and Dino Frey for helpful comments. We
thank Mike Bishop and Martin Munt of Dinosaur Isle
(Isle of Wight Council) for allowing us to work on the
new material, and Steve Sweetman for access to un-
published data. We thank Mr. Keith Simmonds for his
excellent preparation of parts of the specimen. We also
thank Jenny Clack for allowing us to borrow a specimen
of Istiodactylus, and Sandra Chapman and Angela
Milner (Natural History Museum, London), David
Norman (Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge), Dino Frey
(Staatssammlung fu
¨r Naturkunde, Karlsruhe, Ger-
many), Peter Wellnhofer (Bayerische Staatssammlung
¨r Pala
¨ontologie, Munich, Germany), Makoto Manabe
and Yuki Tomida (National Science Museum, Tokyo,
Japan), Y. Hasegawa and Y. Takakua (Gunma Museum
of Natural History, Gunma, Japan), S. Nabana (Iwaki
Fig. 8. Drawings of the braincase referred to Caulkicephalus, IWCMS
2002.189.3, in caudal view (A) and in right lateral view (B).
12 L. Steel et al. / Cretaceous Research -- (2005) ---e---
Museum of Coal and Fossils, Iwaki, Japan), Y. Okazaki
(Kita Kyushu Museum of Natural History, Kita
Kyushu, Japan) and M. Norell (American Museum for
Natural History, New York, USA) for allowing us to
examine material in their care. Mr. Bob Loveridge is
thanked for help with photography. An anonymous
referee and Dr. Michael Fastnacht (Mainz) significantly
improved the manuscript. Thanks to Andrea Glazier,
Robin Toyne and the rest of the production crew of RDF
Media for their enthusiastic input. LS thanks the Isle of
Wight Council for supporting her work, DMM thanks
the University of Portsmouth.
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... They include chondrichthyan and osteichthyan fishes among which are hybodonts (Duffin and Sweetman 2011;Sweetman et al. 2014), the earliest records of neoselachians from freshwater deposits (Sweetman and Underwood 2006), amiiforms, seminotiforms and pycnodontiforms (Forey and Sweetman 2011;Sweetman et al. 2014). The tetrapod assemblage comprises: lissamphibians, including several frogs and salamanders and an albanerpetontid (Sweetman and Evans 2011a; Sweetman and Gardner 2013); perhaps the most diverse lizard assemblage yet recovered from deposits of Early Cretaceous age, including scincomorphs and anguimorphs (Sweetman and Evans 2011b); rare turtle remains, representing one genus of Pleurosternidae and one of Plesiochelydae (Milner 2011); a diverse assemblage of crocodyliforms, including members of at least four neosuchian families, Goniopholididae, Pholidosauridae, Atoposauridae and Bernissartiidae, and one eusuchian family incertae sedis (Salisbury and Naish 2011;Sweetman et al. 2015); Europe's most speciose dinosaur assemblage including ornithischians, among which are basal forms, a polacanthid ankylosaur and ornithopods, and saurischians including sauropods and theropods, among which are a number of rare, apparently avian forms (Barret and Maidment 2011;Norman 2011;Naish 2011;Sweetman 2011Sweetman , 2016Upchurch et al. 2011); uncommon pterosaur remains representing istiodactylids, ornithochcheirids, ctenochasmatids and at least one other currently indeterminate taxon (Steel et al. 2005;Sweetman and Martill 2010;Martill et al. 2011;Martill 2015) and; mammals, including a gobiconodontid (Sweetman 2006) and at least one other eutriconodontan (Sweetman and Hooker 2011), a spalacolestine spalacotheriid (Sweetman 2008), one or possibly two multituberculates (Sweetman 2009), a dryolestid, a stem boreosphenidan possibly a member of Aegialodontidae, and perhaps more than one other taxon currently represented by indeterminate anterior teeth (Sweetman and Hooker 2011). ...
... Piscivorous forms are also present, including sharks and amiiform fishes, crocodyliforms, at least one theropod dinosaur (Baryonyx sp. [Martill and Hutt 1996;Charig and Milner 1997]) and pterosaurs (Martill 2015) including the ornithocheirid Caulkicephalus trimicrodon Steel et al., 2005, the type material of which was recovered from bed 33 (Fig. 8) at Yaverland. Insectivores include lissamphibians, lizards, crocodyliforms, dinosaurs and mammals. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Cretaceous succession exposed in the cliffs and on the foreshore at Yaverland on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight is one of the Wessex Sub-basin’s classic vertebrate fossil sites. Its history stretches back to the time of Dean William Buckland who in 1829 just five years after scientifically describing the World’s first dinosaur, Magalosaurus, described a large pedal phalanx attributable to Iguanodon. Since then, many vertebrate remains have been found at Yaverland, and it is now the type locality for the enigmatic, and eponymous likely theropod dinosaur Yaverlandia bitholus. It is also the type locality for the pterosaur Caulkicephalus trimicrodon, discovered by a seven year old school boy while holidaying on the island, and of the bernissartiid crocodyliform Koumpiodontosuchus aprosdokiti. The posterior part of the skull comprising the holotype of the latter was found by a West Country woman while on holiday and, quite remarkably, the anterior part was found some three months later by a young boy, also on holiday on the island. Two horizons in the upper part of the Barremian, Wealden Group, Wessex Formation exposed here are particularly rich in microvertebrate remains. These are plant debris beds one of which has yielded the type specimen of the albanerpetontid lissamphibian Wesserpeton evansae, the type specimen of the spalacolestine spalacotheriid mammal Yaverlestes gassoni and the paratype specimen of the multituberculate mammal Eobaatar clemensi. Many other vertebrate fossils from this locality, representing a great diversity of taxa, have also been described. Furthermore, the site is popular with local fossil collectors, and it is doubtful if any large bones and teeth escape collection. The marine Cretaceous succession, extending from Yaverland to Culver Cliff is, by comparison with the Wealden Group, very poor in vertebrate fossils. However it is of considerable interest as it documents a major (and complex) marine transgression, and the structural evolution of the Wessex Sub-basin from the Aptian to the Turonian. No visit to this locality would be complete without a brief examination of it.
... Pterosaur remains are a rare, but significant component of the Wessex Formation (Wealden Group, Early Cretaceous, Barremian) vertebrate assemblage of the Isle of Wight in southern England (Hooley, 1913;Howse et al., 2001;Martill et al., 2011;Martill, 2015;Steel et al., 2005;Sweetman and Martill, 2010;Witton et al., 2009). The Wessex Formation pterosaur assemblage includes two valid named taxa; Istiodactylus latidens (Hooley, 1913) and Caulkicephalus trimicrodon Steel et al., 2005, and some fragmentary remains that have satisfactorily been referred to the genus Coloborhynchus (Martill, 2015). ...
... Pterosaur remains are a rare, but significant component of the Wessex Formation (Wealden Group, Early Cretaceous, Barremian) vertebrate assemblage of the Isle of Wight in southern England (Hooley, 1913;Howse et al., 2001;Martill et al., 2011;Martill, 2015;Steel et al., 2005;Sweetman and Martill, 2010;Witton et al., 2009). The Wessex Formation pterosaur assemblage includes two valid named taxa; Istiodactylus latidens (Hooley, 1913) and Caulkicephalus trimicrodon Steel et al., 2005, and some fragmentary remains that have satisfactorily been referred to the genus Coloborhynchus (Martill, 2015). Other material generally lacks diagnostic features at generic level and has been referred to the higher pterodactyloid clades Gnathosaurinae (Ctenochasmatoidea) and Neoazhdarchia (Azhdarchoidea) (Martill et al., 2011) or is regarded as undiagnostic (Howse et al., 2001). ...
A partial distal left metacarpal IV of a pterodactyloid pterosaur is notable for its size. The specimen, from the Early Cretaceous (Barremian)Wessex Formation exposed on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight, southern England is identified as an ornithocheirid, perhaps close to the Ornithocheirus, Coloborhynchus, Caulkicephalus, Anhanguera complex. A morphometric analysis suggests an original wing span of approximately 5.6 m. With an early Barremian age, this pterosaur would have been a giant for its time.
... The rapid burial of the PDBs, and the development of reducing conditions within the sediment, created favourable environments for the preservation of vertebrates (Batten, 2011;Austen and Batten, 2018), from microvertebrates (Sweetman, 2007) to giant dinosaurs (Naish et al., 2004). Vertebrates from the Wessex include elasmobranchs (Sweetman and Underwood, 2006), freshwater osteichthyans (Sweetman et al., 2014), mammaliaforms (Sweetman, 2006(Sweetman, , 2008(Sweetman, , 2009, lizards, crocodyliforms (Ristevski et al., 2018), turtles (Joyce et al., 2011;Pérez-García, 2012), and pterosaurs (Steel et al., 2005;Sweetman and Martill, 2010;Martill, 2015;Martill et al., 2020). Dinosaurs are diverse, with around 20 recognized species (Table 1). ...
Full-text available
A B S T R A C T The Lower Cretaceous of England has produced a diverse assemblage of dinosaurs, including ornithischians, sauropods, and theropods. The origins of this assemblage are poorly understood. Here, we describe a new dromaeosaurid, Vectiraptor greeni gen. et sp. nov., from the Barremian Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight. The animal is represented by associated dorsal vertebrae and a partial sacrum. Dorsal vertebrae are short, with pleurocoels, camellate pneumatization, stalked parapophyses and enlarged neural canals. Neural spines are tall, with large ligament scars. Sacral centra lack pleurocoels but have large neural canals and foramina suggesting pneumatization. These characters suggest affinities with Dromaeosauridae and specifically the derived, large-bodied Eudromaeosauria. Vectiraptor resembles Early Cretaceous eudromaeosaurs from North America, suggesting a faunal exchange between Europe and North America. The diverse Early Cretaceous dinosaur assemblage found in England and Europe resulted from dispersal from North America, Asia, and West Gondwana, likely involving both land bridges and oceanic dispersal. Europe served as a biotic crossroads in the Early Cretaceous, allowing faunal interchange between landmasses.
... This includes most notably the roughly coeval Coloborhynchus clavirostris from the adjacent British Wealden. But even in more completely known mandibles most diagnostic traits are restricted to the anterior part of the symphysis (e.g., Steel et al. 2005). ...
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The record of Cretaceous pterosaur remains from Germany is sparse. The material recovered to date includes the fragmentary holotypes of Targaryendraco wiedenrothi and Ctenochasma roemeri, as well as a few isolated pterodactyloid teeth and some indeterminate skeletal elements, together with a plaster cast of a large Purbeckopus manus imprint. Here, we report the discovery of a pterodactyloid pterosaur mandible from lower Valanginian strata of the Stadthagen Formation in the Lower Saxony Basin of Northern Germany. Based on the size and spacing of its alveoli, this fossil is attributable to the cosmopolitan Early Cretaceous pteranodontoid clade Anhangueria. Moreover, it represents the first and only known pterosaur from the Valanginian of Germany and is one of only a handful Valanganian pterosaur occurrences presently recognized worldwide. In addition to the approximately coeval Coloborhynchus clavirostris from the Hastings Bed Group of southern England, the Stadthagen Formation pterosaur mandible is among the stratigraphically oldest identifiable anhanguerians.
... Some ornithocheirid pterosaurs reached wingspans of five to six meters, or more (Martill & Unwin, 2012). They occurred nearly globally during the late Early Cretaceous (Barremian-Albian) and early Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian) and are reported from Eurasia, North Africa, Australia, North and South America, with the exception of Antarctica and Central America (Averianov, 2004(Averianov, , 2007Steel et al. 2005, Unwin & Martill, 2007Barrett et al., 2008and references therein, Fletcher & Salisbury 2010, Kellner et al. 2019. ...
... The locality has become well known for an abundance of vertebrate fossils, especially from the plant debris bed horizons of the Wessex Formation (Sweetman and Insole, 2010). In particular, the locality has yielded dinosaurs (Martill and Naish, 2001) and pterosaurs (Steel et al., 2005) that are unique to the locality (Yaverlandia and Caulkicephalus respectively). The specimen was found in the highest plant debris bed before the Wessex Formation passes up into the Cowleaze Chine Member of the Vectis Formation (bed 38 of Radley, 1994) (Fig. 1). ...
An isolated, partial premaxilla from the Lower Cretaceous (Barremian) Wessex Formation of Yaverland, Isle of Wight, UK is identified as pterosaurian on account of its overall morphology and thin bone walls. It is regarded as a tapejarid on account of it unique down-turned tip with a unique pattern of slit-like foramina on its occlusal surface, while a combination of sensory foramina and lateral outline identify it as a new genus and species. The downturn of the occlusal margin lies beyond the anterior margin of the nasoantorbital fenestra suggesting affinities with Sinopterus from China rather than South American tapejarids such as Tapejara, Tupandactylus and Caiuajara. This specimen is the first record of Tapejaridae in the Wessex Formation, and is amongst the oldest record of the Tapejaridae outside of China.
... Circles represent genera (Andres and Ji, 2008;Kellner, 1985, 1997;Dong and Lü, 2005;Frey and Martill, 1994;Howse et al., 2001;Ji and Ji, 1997;Jiang and Wang, 2011;Kellner, 1984;Kellner and Tomida, 2000;Lawson, 1975;Lü, 2003;Lü et al., 2012aLü et al., , 2012bLü et al., , 2017Lü and Ji, 2005;Lü and Qiang, 2005;Lü and Zhang, 2005;Marsh, 1876;Rodrigues et al., 2015;Steel et al., 2005;Sweetman and Martill, 2010;Unwin, 2001;Veldmeijer et al., 2005;Wang et al., 2005Wang et al., , 2007Wang et al., , 2012Wang et al., , 2014Wang and Lü, 2001;Wang and Zhou, 2006;Wellnhofer, 1987). ...
A new genus and species of edentulous pterodactyloid pterosaur with a distinctive partial rostrum from the mid-Cretaceous (?Albian/Cenomanian) Kem Kem beds of southeast Morocco is described. The taxon is assigned to Chaoyangopteridae based upon its edentulous jaws, elongate rostrum and slightly concave dorsal outline. The rostral cross-section is rounded dorsally and concave on the occlusal surface. The lateral margins are gently convex dorsally becoming slightly wider toward the occlusal border, and a row of small lateral foramina parallel to the dorsal margin determines it as a taxon distinct from other chaoyangopterids. Apatorhamphus gyrostega gen et sp. nov. is a pterosaur of medium to large size (wingspan likely somewhere between ~3 m and ~7 m). This new species brings the number of named Kem Kem azhdarchoids to three, and the number of named Kem Kem pterosaurs to five, indicating a high pterosaur diversity for the Kem Kem beds.
... The same pattern is reflected on the lower jaw of Aetodactylus halli (see Myers 2015). Patterns of tooth arrangement do not seem to vary ontogenetically in the anhanguerian Hamipterus tianshanensis (see Wang et al. 2014), and we regard it as taxonomically informative following previous studies (Steel et al. 2005;Rodrigues and Kellner 2013;Holgado et al. 2019). Cimoliopterus and Camposipterus also share an anterior, blunt projection of the tip of the rostrum above the first pair of alveoli (see Rodrigues and Kellner 2013;Myers 2015;Jacobs et al. 2019), termed a 'nose-like projection' by Jacobs et al. (2019). ...
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Ornithocheirus wiedenrothi, from the Hauterivian (Early Cretaceous of Germany), is a taxon represented by three-dimensional remains of the lower jaw and wing elements. Its phylogenetic affinities have for long been elusive, though several works had already pointed out that it probably did not belong within the wastebasket genus Ornithocheirus. In the present contribution, we redescribe this species, assigning it to the new genus Targaryendraco and offering updated morphological comparisons. Subsequently, we present a phylogenetic analysis in which we recover a clade formed by Targaryendraco, Aussiedraco, Barbosania, Aetodactylus, Camposipterus and Cimoliopterus. This newly recognised clade is interesting in being quite cosmopolitan and spanning from the Hauterivian to the Cenomanian, like its sister-group, the Anhangueria. The recognition of this clade helps fill the temporal gap between the Anhangueria and Cimoliopterus, and also demonstrates that the diversity of Cretaceous toothed pterosaurs was higher than previously thought.
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The Istiodactylidae is a group of pterodactyloids characterised by large nasoantorbital fenestrae and labiolingually compressed teeth, with several records reported from the Early Cretaceous of northeastern China and western Europe. Here we report a new istiodactylid, Lingyuanopterus camposi gen. et sp. nov. from the Jiufotang Formation of Lingyuan, Liaoning, northeastern China. The holotype is represented by a near-complete skull, mandible and atlas-axis complex. It is distinguished from other istiodactylids by several characters, including two autapomorphies: short triangular tooth crowns with sharp mesial and distal carinae limited to the distal teeth, mandibular symphysis occupying approximately a quarter the mandible length. We also report the presence of helical jaw joints in istiodactylids, and provide a revised diagnosis of the clade Istiodactylidae, which includes five genera: Istiodactylus , Liaoxipterus , Nurhachius , Luchibang and Lingyuanopterus . Four pellets containing fish fragments were observed and are tentatively interpreted as bromalites of Lingyuanopterus . Although members of this clade possess similar skull morphologies, istiodactylids vary in terms of their dentition, with at least three forms from the Jiufotang Formation alone. This may represent different feeding strategies, and also indicate a similarity between the pterosaur assemblages of northeastern China and Britain during the Early Cretaceous.
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A new and articulated specimen of a pterosaur wing including upper arm, forearm, parts of the carpus and metacarpus, and a wing phalanx from Maastrichtian phosphatic deposits of Morocco are assigned to Tethydraco cf. regalis Longrich et al., 2018. The specimen comes from the village of Ouled Abdoun, close to the Oued Zem basin and its phosphatic mines (Morocco). The fossil is part of the collection of the Université Hassan II of Casablanca (ID Number FSAC CP 251). In the first part, the thesis presents a synthetic introduction about the morphology, anatomy, physiology and evolution of pterosaurs in order to offer a comprehensive framework on this fascinating group of extinct flying tetrapods. The main goal of this work is the taxonomic identification of the specimen, principally by morphological and morphometric/statistic analysis, based on the comparison with the most similar pterosaurs of the same epoch. Aspect of the humerus morphology and dimensional ratios of the wing elements suggest that T. cf. regalis is an azhdarchid rather than pteranodontid, as originally proposed. A high abundance of azhdarchid remains in the open marine setting of the Moroccan phosphates casts doubt on suggestions that Azhdarchidae were largely terrestrial pterosaurs.
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Cearadactylus atrox, a large pterodactyloid pterosaur represented by an incomplete skull and lower jaw from the Lower Cretaceous Santana Formation of Brazil, is a valid species. Diagnostic characters include a mandibular symphysis with a transversely expanded "spatulate" anterior end that is considerably wider than the rostral spatula, and a third rostral tooth that has a basal diameter more than three times that of the fifth tooth. Additional diagnostic characters, contingent upon assignment of Cearadactylus atrox to the Ctenochasmatidae, include: anterior ends of jaws divaricate and containing 7 pairs of rostral teeth and 6 pairs of mandibular teeth; marked dimorphodonty, with an abrupt change in tooth morphology; and a "high check". "Cearadactylus? ligabuei" Dalla Vecchia, 1993, based on an incomplete skull, also from the Santana Formation, is not related to Cearadactylus atrox, exhibits several ornithocheirid synapomorphies and is referred, tentatively, to Anhanguera. Cearadactylus atrox exhibits various synapomorphies of the Ctenochasmatidae (rostrum anterior to nasoantorbital fenestra greater than half total skull length, teeth in anterior part of dentition relatively elongate and pencil-shaped, premaxilla has at least 7 pairs of teeth), the defining synapomorphy of the Gnathosaurinae (rostrum with dorsoventrally compressed laterally expanded spatulate anterior expansion), and shares two synapomorphies with the Chinese gnathosaurine Huanhepterus quingyangensis (anterior tips of jaws divaricate, teeth restricted to anterior half of mandible). Two elongate cervical vertebrae, also from the Santana Formation and previously assigned to "Santanadactylus brasilensis", are tentatively referred to Cearadactylus. Reconstruction of the temporal history of the Ctenochasmatidae suggests that while ctenochasmatines became increasingly specialised for filter feeding, gnathosaurines changed from sieve feeding to piscivory, acquiring several cranial characters that are similar to those of ornithocheirids, a group that also includes large aerial piscivores that used a terminal tooth grab for prey capture. Cearadactylus atrox aus der Santana-Formation (Unterkreide, NO-Brasilien) ist eine valide Art. Eine Revision des Taxons, von dem ein unvollständiger Schädel mit Unterkiefer vorliegt, ergab folgende diagnostische (autapomorphe) Merkmale. Die Symphyse hat ein transversal verbreitertes spatelförmiges Vorderende, das deutlich breiter ist als das Schnauzenende. Der dritte rostrale Zahn erreicht einen basalen Durchmesser, der jenen des fünften Zahns um das Dreifache übertrifft. Hinzu kommen Merkmale, die C. atrox mit der Ctenochasmatidae gemein hat, darunter die vorn auseinanderklaffenden Kieferränder, sieben rostrale Zahnpaare, sechs Unterkieferzahnpaare, eine ausgeprägte Dimorphodontie sowie eine hohe Wangenregion. "Cearadactylus ? ligabuei" Dalla Vecchia 1993, ebenfalls mit einem unvollständigen Schädel belegt, ist nicht näher mit C. atrox verwandt. Im Gegensatz zu letzterem zeigt "C. ? ligabuei" signifikante Ähnlichkeiten mit den Ornithocheiridae. Unter Vorbehalt wird er hier der Gattung Anhanguera zugeordnet. C. atrox hat neben eindeutigen Synapomorphien der Ctenochasmatidae, z. B. erreicht das Rostrum anterior des nasoantorbitalen Fensters mehr als die halbe Schädellänge, die vordersten Zähne sind verlängert und stiftförmig und die das Prämaxillare trägt mindestens sieben Zahnpaare. Daneben besitzt C. atrox auch noch die entscheidende Synapomorphie der Gnathosaurinae, nämlich ein Rostrum mit dorsoventral komprimierter vorderem Auswuchs. Außerdem ist C. atrox gekennzeichnet durch zwei Autapomorphien des Gnathosaurinen Huanhepterus quingyangensis aus China: divergierende Schnauzenenden und Zähne begrenzt auf vordere Kieferhälfte. Schließlich werden zwei lange Halswirbel, die auch aus der Santana Formation stammen und bislang zu Santanadactylus brasiliensis gerechnet wurden, unter Vorbehalt zu Cearadactylus gestellt. Die Evolutionsgeschichte der Ctenochasmatidae ist durch eine zunehmende Spezialisierung auf filternde Ernährungsweise gekennzeichnet. Die Gnathosaurinen dagegen stellten sich von der filternden auf eine piscivore Ernährung um, wobei sie eine Reihe von Schädelmerkmalen erworben haben, die den Ornithocheiriden konvergent ähnlich ist. doi:10.1002/mmng.20020050114
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The Cambridge Greensand, a remanié deposit that crops out in Cambridgeshire, eastern England, has yielded numerous, though fragmentary, late Early Cretaceous (Albian) vertebrate fossils including more than 2000 isolated pterosaur bones. So far, 32 species of pterosaur have been proposed in connection with the Cambridge Greensand material, but there has been and continues to be considerable confusion concerning the validity of these taxa, their relationships to each other and to other pterosaurs, and the material upon which they were established. A comprehensive systematic revision identified eleven valid species distributed among three families: the Ornithocheiridae (Ornithocheirus simus and possibly a second, as yet unnamed species of Ornithocheirus, Coloborhynchus capito, Coloborhynchus sedgwickii, Anhanguera cuvieri, and Anhanguera fittoni); the Lonchodectidae (Lonchodectes compressirostris, Lonchodectes machaerorhynchus, Lonchodectes microdon and Lonchodectes platystomus); and a species of edentulous pterosaur (Ornithostoma sedgwicki) that may represent the earliest record for the Pteranodontidae. It is possible that some of the taxa currently recognised represent sexual dimorphs (Coloborhynchus capito and Coloborhynchus sedgwickii, Lonchodectes compressirostris and Lonchodectes machaerorhynchus), or disjunct populations of a single species (Ornithocheirus simus and Ornithocheirus sp., Lonchodectes compressirostris and Lonchodectes microdon) and that there may be as few as seven valid species, but the Cambridge Greensand pterosaurs are too poorly known to demonstrate this at present. The Cambridge Greensand pterosaur assemblage is similar to a slightly younger, but much smaller assemblage from the Lower Chalk of England and shares some elements, such as ornithocheirids, in common with many other late Early and early Late Cretaceous assemblages. It is distinguished by the absence of tapejarids and the presence of Lonchodectes which, so far, is only known from the Cretaceous of England. The disparity in taxonomic composition is possibly related to ecological differentiation, and might also reflect some provincialism in late Early and early Late Cretaceous pterosaur faunas. Der Cambridge Greensand, eine in Ostengland aufgeschlossene Remanié-Ablagerung, hat zahlreiche Wirbeltiere aus der oberen Unterkreide (Alb) geliefert. Darunter fanden sich mehr als 2000 isolierte Pterosaurierknochen. Insgesamt wurden aus dem Greensand bis zu 32 Flugsauriertaxa beschrieben, was zu einer beträchtlichen taxonomischen und nomenklatorischen Verwirrung geführt hat, die bis heute andauert. Eine vollständige Revision erkennt 11 Arten aus drei Familien an: (1) die Ornithocheiridae (Ornithocheirus simus und vielleicht eine zweite, bislang unbenannte Art von Ornithocheirus, sowie Coloborhynchus capito, Coloborhynchus sedgwickii, Anhanguera cuvieri und Anhanguera fittoni); (2) die Lonchodectidae (Lonchodectes compressirostris, Lonchodectes machaerorhynchus, Lonchodectes microdon und Lonchodectes platystomus); und schließlich einen zahnlosen Flugsaurier (Ornithostoma sedgwicki). der zu keiner der vorgenannten Familien gehört und sich als stratigraphisch ältester Nachweis der Pteranodontidae erweisen könnte. Es ist nicht auszuschließen, dass einige der gegenwärtig erkannten Taxa eher einen ausgeprägten Sexualdimorphismus illustrieren denn taxonomisch distinkte Arten darstellen (Coloborhynchus capito und Coloborhynchus sedgwickii, Lonchodectes compressirostris und Lonchodectes machaerorhynchus) oder sogar lediglich Endpunkte einer intraspezifisch variablen Population (Ornithocheirus simus und Ornithocheirus sp., Lonchodectes compressirostris und Lonchodectes microdon). In dieser strengeren Fassung bestünden nur sieben gültige Arten, doch leider sind die Flugsaurier des Cambridge Greensand zu schlecht bekannt, um diese Fragen zu beantworten. Die Flugsaurierfauna des Cambridge Greensand ähnelt jüngeren kreidezeitlichen Faunen aus dem Lower Chalk von England. Weiter-hin enthält sie Faunenelemente, wie etwa Ornithocheiriden. die auch für zahlreiche andere Faunen der hohen Unterkreide und tiefen Oberkreide charakteristisch sind. Das Fehlen von Tapejariden und das Auftreten des anscheinend endemischen Lonchodectes sind weitere Kennzeichen des Cambridge Greensand. Die Zusammensetzung der Pterosaurierfaunen folgte offenbar ökologischen Differenzierungen und illustriert einen gewissen Provinzialismus an der Grenze Unter-Oberkreide. doi:10.1002/mmng.20010040112
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A reassessment of the systematic relationships of pterosaurs from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province, China, shows that Dendrorhynchoides should be reassigned to the Anurognathidae (“Rhamphorhynchoidea”) and that Eosipterus possibly belongs within Ctenochasmatidae (Pterodactyloidea). These pterosaurs formed an integral part of a diverse community that inhabited lowland terrestrial environments in the region of northeast China in the Early Cretaceous. A new compilation of data for the Lower Cretaceous hints at a broad differentiation between pterosaurs that lived in continental habitats (anurognathids, ctenochasmatoids, dsungaripteroids) and those that frequented marine environments (ornithocheiroids). Moreover, there is evidence of further differentiation within continental habitats, between pterosaurs living in lowland and coastal regions (anurognathids. ctenochasmatoids) and those living in more inland environments (dsungaripteroids). The temporal and geographical range extensions for high rank taxa that are implied by the Yixian pterosaurs further emphasise the incompleteness and unevenness of the pterosaur fossil record and its unreliability for biostratigraphic zonation. Eine Neubewertung der systematischen Stellung der Flugsaurier von der unterkretazischen Yixian-Formation der Provinz Liaoning, China, zeigt, dass Dendrorhynchoides den Anurognathiden (“Rhamphorhynchoidea”) zugeordnet werden kann und dass Eosipterus vermutlich zu den Ctenochasmatiden (Pterodactyloidea) gehört. Diese beiden Flugsaurier bilden einen integralen Bestandteil einer diversen Fauna, die in der Unteren Kreide ein terrestrisches Flachland-Ökosystem im Nordosten Chinas bewohnte. Fasst man die für die Untere Kreide verfügbaren Daten zusammen, so zeigt sich eine weitgehende Differenzierung zwischen Flugsauriern, die überwiegend in kontinentalen Ökosystemen lebten (Anurognathidae, Ctenochasmatoidea, Dsungaripteroidea) und jenen, die auch oft in marinen Bereichen auftreten (Ornithocheiroidea). Darüber hinaus gibt es auch Hinweise auf eine Differenzierung innerhalb der kontinentalen Habitate, zwischen Pterosauriern, die sich in den Ebenen und küstennahen Bereichen aufhielten (Anurognathidae, Ctenochasmatoidea) und den Bewohnern von mehr küstenfernen Ökosystemen (Dsungaripteroidea). Die von den Taxa der Yixian-Formation angezeigte Erweiterung der stratigraphischen und geographischen Reichweite für Taxa höheren Ranges unterstreichen die Unvollständigkeit und Unausgewogenheit des Fossilberichtes der Flugsaurier und seine Unzulänglichkeit für biostratigraphische Zonierungen. doi:10.1002/mmng.20000030109
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ABSTRACT Cearadactylus atrox nov. gen., nov. sp.: a new Pterosauria (Pterodactyloidea) from the Ararípe-Plateau, Ceará, Brazil. A skull with mandible ascribed to a Pterosauria (Pterodactyloidea) is described. It originates from Lower Cretaceous, Santana formation, Ararípe-Plateau, Ceará, Brazil. A new genus and species is instituted. Classis: Reptilia Laurenti, 1768 Subclassis: Archosauria Cope, 1869 Ordo: Pterosauria Kaup, 1874 Subordo: Pterodactyloidea Plieninger, 1901 Familia indet. Cearadactylus nov. gen. Diagnose of the genus: large pterosaurian, but not a giant one, predator. Skull long and low. Anterior ends of both skull and man¬dible spatulated. The alveolar borders of the premaxillae do not occlude with the jaw, thus leaving a wide gap. Premaxillary and anterior dentary teeth considerably longer than the other ones cro¬oked, stretched outwards. The antero-superior border of the antorbital fenestra (fused with the external naris) is formed only by the premaxilla. Derivatio nominis: from the state of Ceará from where the skull proceeds; and from the Greek δάχτυλος = digit, with reference to the long IV digit of the Pterosauria. Type-species: Cearadactylus atrox nov. gen. nov. sp. Type by monotypy Cearadactylus atrox nov. gen. nov. sp. Figs. 1 and 2: table. Holotype: skull with jaw; tabular region and braincase lacking. Depositorium: Borgomanero collection — Rua Almirante Tamandaré 915. 80000 Curitiba PR, Brazil. N° F-PV-93. [NB: the holotype is now conserved in the collection of the Departamente Nacional de Produção Mineral-DNPA, Seção de Paleontologia, Urca, Praia Vermelha, Av. Pasteur, 404 — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil] Plastotype: cast of the holotype deposited in the Paleontological Section of the "Departamento Nacional de Produção Mineral", Av. Pasteur, 404 — Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. Horizon, type and age: Member Romualdo, Santana Formation, Araripe Group, Lower Cretaceous, Aptian. Type locality: Araripe-Plateau, Ceará, Brazil. The precise locality is unknown, out the specimen may possibly originate from the eas¬tern end of the Plateau. Derivatio nominis: atrox: from the Latin, means cruel; with refe¬rence to the undoubtedly carnivorous diet s. l. (probably psicivorous), as well as to the long teeth which represented a veritable trap for the prey. Diagnose of the species: large pterosaurian, but not a giant one (wing-span about 4 m in the adult), predator; skull showing the follo¬wing features: skull long and low, general outline, in zenithal view, elongated, birsoyd, with rostral end spatulated. The alveolar bor¬ders of the premaxillary do not occlude with the jaw, leaving a wide gap. Premaxillary dentition very long and, except the most anterior teeth, obliquely outward stretched and curved; maxillary teeth spaced, short, conical, not very sharp and slightly stretched back¬ward. The teeth of the dentary show a strictly similar disposition and pattern. All teeth alternate in the upper and inferior rows, so that they interfinger, while in the occlusion the lower ones lie exter¬nal to the maxillary, and the upper ones lie external to the mandi¬ble. Antorbital fenestra (fused with the external naris) very long, with the posterior border forming an angle of about 90° with the lower border; the maxilla does not bound its upper margin. Long groove along almost the entire length of the suture between premaxillae. Sagittal crest lacking, at least until the first third part of the antorbital opening. Base of the temporal region (between the quadrate and the posterior border of the antorbital fenestra) narrow and funnel shaped. Length of the symphysis equal to nearly one third of the mandible. Mandibular ramus deeper than the rostral portion of the skull. Anterior end of the mandible spatulated.
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New, but fragmentary remains of indeterminate pterosaurs from the Vectis Formation (Lower Cretaceous, Upper Barremian to ?Lower Aptian) of the Isle of Wight, UK, indicate the presence of giant pterosaurs in southern England during the Lower Cretaceous. The new remains are noteworthy as they represent a species which may have had a wing span approaching that of Pteranodon and Quetzalcoatlus (> 9 m), and are the oldest of the so-called giant pterosaurs.
The skeletal proportions and size distribution of the Late Cretaceous pterosaur Pteranodon are described. The functional morphology of flight is discussed and it is argued that the patagium attached to the femora which enabled the hindlimb to assist in flapping and control of the patagium. Movements of the wing provided yaw control so that the skull and cranial crest need not be interpreted as a forward rudder. Terrestrial locomotion is discussed, and it is argued that Pteranodon and other large pterodactyloids must have been bipedal. The functional morphology of the jaws and feeding are discussed, and it is argued that Pteranodon could swim and fed while swimming on the water rather than dipping food while in flight. The function of postcranial pneumaticity is also discussed.