Swiss Journal of Geosciences

, Volume 104, Supplement 1, pp 35–55 | Cite as

The oldest azhdarchoid pterosaur from the Late Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone (Early Tithonian) of Southern Germany

  • Eberhard Frey
  • Christian A. Meyer
  • Helmut Tischlinger
Article

Abstract

Based on an almost complete three-dimensionally preserved skeleton, a new genus and species of an azhdarchoid pterosaur Aurorazhdarcho primordius n.gen. n.sp. from the Late Jurassic Solnhofen limestone (Early Tithonian) of the Eichstätt area (Bavaria, Germany) is described. Furthermore, a new family the Protazhdarchidae is proposed. The specimen is attributed to the Azhdarchoidea based on its glenoid fossa level with the sternum, the shovel-like shape of the sternal plate, the wide furca of the coracoid, the metacarpus being longer than radius and ulna, the femur being 1/3 longer than the humerus, the femorotibial ratio, and the hammer-shaped humerus among other diagnostic features. Under UV-light, soft tissue preservation around the external mould of the head is visible. It consists of tiny flakes possibly remnants of skin. The dorsally curved outline of the external mould of the head suggests the presence of a cranial crest. The new species is the oldest record of the azhdarchoid pterosaurs. It supports the Eurasian origin of this group that includes the largest flying animal ever.

Keywords

Azhdarchoidea Pterosauria Soft tissue preservation Tithonian Southern Germany 

Institutional abbreviations

MNHS

Museum of Natural History Sintra, Portugal

NMB

Naturhistorisches Museum Basel, Switzerland

SMNK

Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, Germany

Zusammenfassung

Basierend auf einem fast vollständigen, drei-dimensional erhaltenen Skelett wird die neue Gattung und Art eines azhdarchoiden Pterosauriers Aurorazhdarcho primordius n.gen. n.sp. beschrieben. Gleichzeitig wird die Familie Protazhdarchidae vorgeschlagen. Das Stück stammt aus den spätjurassischen Solnhofener Plattenkalken (frühes Tithonium) aus der Umgebung von Eichstätt (Bayern, Deutschland). Das Schultergelenk in Höhe des Sternum, die schaufelförmige Sternalplatte, die weite Coracoidgabel, der Metacarpus, der länger ist als Radius und Ulna, der Femur, der um ein Drittel länger ist als der Humerus, das femorotibiale Längenverhältnis und der hammerförmige Humerus und andere diagnostische Charakteristika erlauben die Zuordnung des Fundes zu den azhdarchoiden Pterosauriern. Unter UV-Licht ist Weichteilerhaltung im Bereich des Kopfabdruckes sichtbar, die aus winzigen Flocken besteht und als mögliche Überreste der Haut interpretiert werden. Der gewölbte Rand im Dorsalbereich des Kopfabdruckes macht einen Scheitelkamm wahrscheinlich. Die vorliegende neue Art ist der älteste Nachweis für die azhdarchoiden Pterosaurier und untermauert den eurasischen Ursprung dieser Flugsauriergruppe, aus der die größten bekannten Flugtiere aller Zeiten hervorgingen.

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Copyright information

© Swiss Geological Society 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eberhard Frey
    • 1
  • Christian A. Meyer
    • 2
  • Helmut Tischlinger
    • 3
  1. 1.Staatliches Museum für NaturkundeKarlsruheGermany
  2. 2.Naturhistorisches MuseumBaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.StammhamGermany

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