Friday, March 12, 2010

Cross-post spectacualr - Zhenyuanopterus

Since I mostly blog over at the Archosaur Musings, it's perhaps inevitable that my contributions to are a bit behind, and even more so as I've been swamped with dinosaur related stuff of late and have not had much time for pterosaurs. Still, for those who have not seen it already, meet Zhenyuanopterus.

This is a truly remarkable boreopterid pterosaur with a 4 m wingspan and one hell of a set of teeth. To cap it off, the specimen is truly great - both complete and articulated and in wonderful condition.

Skull of Zhenyuanopterus holotype. Image courtesy of Lu Jungchang.

As you can see the skull is very long with quite a big midline crest, but it's the teeth that stand out. For a start, there are a huge number of them about 180 all told, and not only are the anterior teeth truly huge, but they are about ten times the length of the smallest teeth at the back of the jaw. It's quite a combination, and one certain to make life difficule for any Mesozoic surgeons but also anything that Zhenyuanopterus was trying to catch. As a boreopterid (and thus close to the ornithocheids) this was probably fish, though I have to wonder if such slender teeth were not vulnerable to being broken by large prey and suggests to me at least that perhaps smaller fish were normally targeted.

As the paper is really just a morphological description there's not much else to add here that won't be very technical and about as exciting at read as it would be for me to write. So I'll leave you with a nice picture of the whole, wonderfully preserved, specimen in all it's toothy glory.

I'll try and get things up faster in the future, but it can take time. Plus I really didn't want to bump Mark's excellent review of Ray Harryhausen's stuff off the top spot!

Lu, J. 2010. A new boreopterid pterodactyloid pterosaur from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province, northeastern China. Acta Geologica Sinica. 24, 241-246.

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