Just a short post on this little fellow. I don’t generally like blogging on new taxa as a lot of other people cover them and there’s generally not much that can be said from an outside perspective that’s not in the paper. I don’t have much to add in that respect here either, but this is a nice thing for me to see out as I’ve seen the specimen knocking around in Dino Frey’s office on a number of occasions over the last few years while being assured it would be described ‘soon’. Well, now it is out and Aurorazhdarcho is born.
The specimen is obviously in superb condition (photos above and below lifted from Frey et al., 2011) though the head and neck are gone. Still, an impression remains on the sediment to show where they originally lay and given an idea of their original size and shape which is rather nice.
The most interesting thing though is the identification of this as member of the azhdarchoids. This most derived of pterosaur clades are otherwise known only from the Cretaceous, though a Jurassic origin is to be expected if (and for some, this is a big if) you accept that Germanodactylus is a dsungariptid and that this clade is the sister-taxon to the azhdarchoids. Certainly it has a few features that are unique to the group (that huge hindlimb for starters) and this identification looks good to me (though I have to confess I have yet to read the paper in full detail), though as ever with a specimen like this, the lack of a head is a real shame.
Frey, E., Meyer, C.A. & Tischlinger, H. 2011. The oldest azhdarchoid pterosaur from the Late Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone (Early Tithonian) of Southern Germany. Swiss Journal of Geosciences in press.