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New information on the Wukongopteridae (Pterosauria) revealed by a new specimen from the Jurassic of China.

July 10 , 2016

The Wukongopteridae is an important pterosaur group discovered from Yanliao Biota, because it combines character states seen in non-pterodactyloid and pterodactyloid pterosaurs. So far, the Wukongopteridae contains three genera: Wukongopterus, Darwinopterus and Kunpengopterus; representing five species. Here we report on a new specimen, IVPP V 17959, that can be undoubtedly referred to the Wukongopteridae based on the presence of a confluent nasoantorbital fenestra, elongated cervical vertebrae (convergent with Pterodactyloidea) and a long tail enclosed by rod-like bony extensions of the zygapophyses. Traits distinguishing this new specimen from other wukongopterid pterosaurs include a premaxilla with a low ossified anterodorsal crest, a nasal bearing the most elongated process known in the Wukongopteridae, and a lacrimal that has a foramen in its middle portion. The new kind of premaxillary crest preserved in IVPP V 17959 suggests that the presence or absence of a premaxillary crest might be an interspecific feature within the Wukongopteridae. A phylogenetic analysis including all wukongopterid pterosaurs recovers IVPP V 17959 in a polytomy with Wukongopterus and the species of Darwinopterus, having Kunpengopterus in a more basal position. The postcranial skeleton of IVPP V 17959 has ontogenetically mature characteristics including a completely fused scapula and coracoid, fused proximal and distal carpal series, and an ossified extensor tendon process of the first wing phalanx, allowing its classification as ontogenetic stage five. Furthermore, the atlas and axis are separated in IVPP V 17959, which indicates that these two bones probably are not fused in skeletally mature wukongopterid individuals.

Xin Cheng, Shunxing Jiang, Xiaolin Wang & Alexander W.A. Kellner (2016)
New information on the Wukongopteridae (Pterosauria) revealed by a new specimen from the Jurassic of China.
PeerJ 4:e2177
doi: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2177



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