Last week was Pterosaur Week in Rio de Janerio, Brazil (Brasíl) at the International Symposium on Pterosaurs, held by the Museu Nacional in Rio.Here, dozens of the brightest among pterosaur workers joined to share new data and old ideas cast in new light (in some cases, literally) on those strange, flying reptiles. I participated in two presentations with Hebert Bruno Campos, but through the vagaries of life, could not participate; and unfortunately, neither could Hebert, who also missed out on a presentation on interactive, scientifically-informed digital reconstructions in pterosaurs. It was our intention to present two posters, with an additional poster of Hebert’s with Anthony Maltese, but that could not happen.
Instead, what I have to share are the posters I prepared, which contain the entire text of the extended, long abstracts submitted, reviewed and accepted by the symposium organizers. Yes, the abstracts for the Rio symposium were reviewed, in much the same manner though with less demand for details as would a normal paper. My normal reluctance to discuss abstracts will be set aside as I present, here, these posters. It is my intention to use this as an opportunity to drum up reactions and discussion, which normally would happen while I was attending the abstracts and sessions at the meeting. Feel free to comment at length!
Campos, H. B. N., Headden, J. A. & Frey, E. 2013. New material of the enigmatic ornithocheiroid Cearadactylus atrox from the Santana Formation (Lower Cretaceous), northwestern Brazil. International Symposium on Pterosaurs, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 23-26 May, 2013. Museu Nacional, Museu de Ciências da Terra, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
First up, a skull of an ornithocheiroid pterosaur in the SMNK of Karlsruhe, Germany, appears to belong to Cearadactylus atrox. This specimen is much larger than the holotype specimen, and suggests the holotype is a subadult or juvenile. This is a conservative referral, but relates to the holotype jaw in its slenderness, shallow rostrum, slight rostral crest, and proportion of the nasoantorbital fenestra. But there’s also a new, more complete mandible. We point to new features that help diagnose Cearadactylus atrox, but also that the jaw material presents features of so-called “lonchodectids” (a group of pterosaurs associated on the basis of a few features of the palate and mandibular symphysis, but never formally named) but more derived, ornithocheirid/anhanguerid pterosaurs. We suggest that “lonchodectids” are a polyphyletic association — more of a grade, really — an association not aided by the fact that the material comprises partial jaws of limited phylogenetic information.
Campos, H. B. N. & Headden, J. A. 2013. A review of Tupuxuara deliradamus (Pterosauria, Azhdarchoidea, Thalassodromidae) from the Early Cretaceous Romualdo Formation of Brazil. International Symposium on Pterosaurs, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 23-26 May, 2013. Museu Nacional, Museu de Ciências da Terra, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Second up, the Kanagawa skull of Tupuxuara. Mark Witton discussed this skull in part in 2009 when describing a new species of Tupuxuara, deliradamus, and suggested this specimen could be referred to his new species. We agree, but consider that the issue of what specimens can be referred to Tupuxuara may be trickier than seen, especially given previous authors’ arguments about Tupuxuara leonardii and longicristatus, the holotypes of which are small fragments of the pre-nasoantorbital snout — regions missing in the Kanagawa skull. Nonetheless, the specimen adds new diagnostic information for deliradamus, and further provides interesting suggestions for cervicocranial anatomy, including large anchor sites for several interesting muscles. A mandible is associated with the specimen, but it seems the jaw, which is complete, belongs to a different specimen as it is wider across the articulars than the skull is across the quadrates, and this doesn’t seem to be influenced by distortion in either specimen. Thus, the Kanagawa skull represents two different thalassodromid skulls.
These studies are part of a larger project, and I’ve quite enjoyed the work I’ve been doing on them. There is, obviously, much more to be said, and we tried to stuff what we could into these abstracts for all that we were confined to 3 pages of text with figures and references, rather than the few-odd paragraphs typical for abstract books. That also makes these closer to short form papers, though without the data to back them up they are still abstracts. Nonetheless, now that they are out there, we (my coauthors and I) hope to receive the feedback we missed in Rio.