A New Pterosaur Species is Described

A brand new pterosaur species has been described based mostly on a wonderfully preserved specimen present in Higher Jurassic limestone deposits in Bavaria (southern Germany). The absolutely articulated specimen shows a novel dentition that implies this flying reptile fed like a modern-day flamingo, sieving water by way of its jaws to entice small invertebrates because it waded or probably swam in a shallow lagoon.

Balaenognathus Life Reconstruction
A life reconstruction of the newly described pterosaur Balaenognathus maeuseri. Image credit score: Megan Jacobs

Image credit score: Megan Jacobs

Balaenognathus maeuseri

The pterosaur has been categorised as a ctenochasmatid, a gaggle of short-tailed pterodactyloids characterised by specialised tooth tailored for filter feeding. Fossils of those comparatively small flying reptiles (most with wingspans lower than 3 metres), have been present in Europe, America and China, in rocks relationship from the Higher Jurassic to the Early Cretaceous. The brand new pterosaur has been named Balaenognathus maeuseri, the genus title derives from the scientific title for the Bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) and the Latin for jaw, as it’s thought that these two unrelated species shared a standard feeding technique. The particular epithet honours a co-author of the paper Matthias Mäuser who sadly handed away earlier than publication.

Balaenognathus fossil specimen.
The fossilised bones of Balaenognathus maeuseri discovered within the slab of limestone (Higher Jurassic laminated limestones at Wattendorf, Bavaria in Southern Germany). Image credit score: PalZ.

Lead writer of the research, printed in Paläontologische Zeitschrift (PalZ), Professor David Martill from the College of Portsmouth Faculty of the Setting, Geography and Geosciences commented:

“The practically full skeleton was present in a really finely layered limestone that preserves fossils superbly.”

Distinctive Pterosaur Dentition

The fossil (specimen quantity NKMB P2011-63), is outstanding for its completeness, uncommon dentition and hints of the preservation of sentimental tissues, together with wing membranes. The fragile jaws comprise a minimum of 480 positive tooth.”

Professor Martill added:

“The jaws of this pterosaur are actually lengthy and lined with small positive, hooked tooth, with tiny areas between them like a nit comb. The lengthy jaw is curved upwards like an avocet and on the finish it flares out like a spoonbill. There are not any tooth on the finish of its mouth, however there are tooth all the best way alongside each jaws proper to the again of its smile.”

Tentative line reconstruction of the skull.
Tentative line reconstruction of the cranium. Image credit score: PalZ

Weird Hook-like Tooth Crown

The ideas of the jaw are devoid of tooth, which might have permitted plankton and invertebrate-rich water to hurry into the lengthy jaw. The a whole lot of tooth would have acted as a sieve serving to to pressure out meals. Most of the tooth have a hook-like growth on the tip of the crown, a weird and distinctive tooth morphology.

Explaining the importance of those unusual tooth, Professor Martill acknowledged:

“What’s much more outstanding is a few of the tooth have a hook on the top, which we’ve by no means seen earlier than in a pterosaur ever. These small hooks would have been used to catch the tiny shrimp the pterosaur possible consumed – ensuring they went down its throat and weren’t squeezed between the tooth.”

Balaenognathus teeth with hook-like crowns.
Fig 7 exhibits UV pictures of the tooth (A) tooth near the tip of the jaw (B) close-up of the crown suggestions of the tooth of the left jaw displaying the hook-like tooth with the hooks highlighted by white arrows. Picture (C) the center tooth. Image credit score: PalZ.

A New Pterosaur

The invention was made unintentionally whereas scientists had been excavating a big block of limestone containing crocodilian fossil stays.

Professor Martill defined:

“This was a slightly serendipitous discover of a well-preserved skeleton with close to excellent articulation, which suggests the carcass will need to have been at a really early stage of decay with all joints, together with their ligaments, nonetheless viable. It will need to have been buried in sediment virtually as quickly because it had died.”

Most members of the Ctenochasmatidae household appear to have been the pterosaur equal of wading shore birds, though some genera had been maybe tailored to habitats additional inland and have really weird formed jaws leaving palaeontologists perplexed as to what they ate.

Just one different recognized pterosaur had extra tooth than Balaenognathus. It’s one other ctenochasmatid and it’s known as Pterodaustro guinazui and its fossils are recognized from the Decrease Cretaceous of Argentina. Each Pterodaustro and Balaenognathus had been possible filter feeders though the association of their tooth differs. Balaenognathus had tooth within the higher and decrease jaw that are the mirror picture of one another, while P. guinazui had very decreased tooth within the higher jaw and as much as a 1,000 densely packed, bristle-like tooth within the decrease jaw.

Balaenognathus fossil specimen viewed under UV light.
The Balaenognathus maeuseri specimen seen beneath UV (extremely violet) gentle. Image credit score: PalZ.

New Pterosaur Species – Distinctive Feeding Mechanism

The tooth of Balaenognathus counsel a feeding technique that concerned the animal both wading by way of water or swimming, utilizing its spoon-shaped beak to funnel water into its mouth, this water was then strained by way of its tooth to entice prey. The researchers suggest that Balaenognathus consumed shrimps and copepods filling an analogous ecological area of interest as extant geese, shorebirds and flamingos.

Commenting on the unhappy passing of Matthias Mäuser, Professor Martill mentioned:

“Matthias was a pleasant and warm-hearted colleague of a form that may be scarcely discovered. In an effort to protect his reminiscence, we named the pterosaur in his honour.”

All the things Dinosaur acknowledges the help of a media launch from the College of Portsmouth within the compilation of this text.

The scientific paper:

The scientific paper: “A brand new pterodactyloid pterosaur with a novel filter‑feeding equipment
from the Late Jurassic of Germany”
by David M. Martill, Eberhard Frey, Helmut Tischlinger, Matthias Mäuser, Héctor E. Rivera‑Sylva and Steven U. Vidovic printed in Paläontologische Zeitschrift (PalZ).

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