I try to eschew posting on other people’s papers and new taxa especially as these are things that tend to get picked up widely and blogged about. Occasionally though something a little special comes along and is well worth a mention, especially as for once no one seems to have leaped on the paper.
And here is the critter in question, Guidrao, a pteranodontoid (or depending on your systematic preferences, an ornithocheiroid) from, no big surprise, China. No matter how many pterosaurs get described the variety of head-crests and teeth seem to keep increasing and here we have rather unusual forms of both. The crest is very helmet-like and extends more or less straight up from the top of the head. It’s got a passing resemblance to that of Pteranodon sternbergi, but not that much and among the ornithocheirids it would pretty much stand alone.
The teeth are pretty special too. With the boreopterids we have recently seen some pterosaurs with hugely elongate teeth that massively overlap the upper and lower jaws. These have been thin and very needle-like affairs, but those here are every bit as long but also clearly rather robust and capable of resisting a fair bit of force one would imagine.
The analysis in the paper finds this as the nearest relative of the Brazilian Ludodactylus which also had some decent sized teeth and a crest at the back of the skull (if rather different in shape). This might surprise given the distance between the two localities but for me, well, pterosaurs, and especially all the Pternodon and Ornithocheirus-like forms could fly pretty well and were most likely ocean going. Ornithocheird remains are known from Brazil, the UK, China and even Australia so they clearly got around and you would expect them to.
All in all though a very interesting animal. The only real question is what is going to turn up next in this year of the dragon?
Wang, X., Kellner, A.W.A., Jiang, S. & Cheng, X. 2012. New toothed flying reptile from Asia: close similarities between early Cretaceous pterosaur faunas from China and Brazil. Naturwissenschaften in press.