International symposium on pterosaurs in England


This video says about itself:

Largest flying creature ever – Pterosaurs Documentary HQ

25 July 2014

Pterosaurs (/ˈtɛrɵsɔr/, from the Greek πτερόσαυρος, pterosauros, meaning “winged lizard”) were flying reptiles of the clade or order Pterosauria. They existed from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous Period (228 to 66 million years ago).

Pterosaurs are the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight. Their wings were formed by a membrane of skin, muscle, and other tissues stretching from the ankles to a dramatically lengthened fourth finger. Early species had long, fully toothed jaws and long tails, while later forms had a highly reduced tail, and some lacked teeth. Many sported furry coats made up of hair-like filaments known as pycnofibers, which covered their bodies and parts of their wings.

Pterosaurs spanned a wide range of adult sizes, from the very small Nemicolopterus to the largest known flying creatures of all time, including Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx

From the Flugsaurier 2015 Portsmouth site in England:

Second Circular

Flugsaurier 2015: The Fifth International Symposium on Pterosaurs

August 25th-30th 2015

School Of Earth And Environmental Sciences

Portsmouth, UK

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to present you with the second circular for the Fifth International Symposium on Pterosaurs. This includes information on conference structure, fees, abstract submission, accommodation, workshops and the conference dinner. Please visit our website at www.flugsaurier2015.com and remember further information will be provided in the third circular.

We look forward to seeing you all next year.

Flugsaurier 2015 committee.

Registration

Registration is now open and can be found at flugsaurier2015.com/register. The conference fee is £60, with a student concession of £30. All payments will be conducted through Paypal with the required information emailed to delegates following their registration. All students must provide their student numbers and a letter signed by their supervisor/lecturer confirming their student status. This letter should accompany the initial registration and can be emailed to registration@flugsaurier2015.com.

Presentation and abstract submission

We are now accepting submission of abstracts relating to any aspect of pterosaur research. Abstracts must be no more than 1000 words including references and may include 1 figure/A4 plate. Please ensure references are in the style of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. While we prefer that presentations are specifically on pterosaur research, we are willing to accept submission of more peripheral topics for posters e.g. the associated faunal assemblage of a pterosaur bearing unit. Abstract submission closes on March 1st to allow time for the review process. We are also arranging a special publication through the Geological Society of London which we encourage delegates to consider contributing to.

Workshops

We are happy to confirm two workshops for Flugsaurier this August. The first workshop, “Biomechanics and aerodynamics of pterosaurs” will be chaired by Colin Palmer and Mike Habib and focuses on the biomechanics of flight. The second workshop is “The taphonomy of Lagerstätten and the implications for pterosaurs”, chaired by Dave Martill and Steve Sweetman. Dave will be focusing on Konservat Lagerstätten, and Steve will focus on pterosaur-bearing Konzentrat Lagerstätten in the UK.

In addition to our workshops, we will have several pterosaur specimens on display which can be examined by the delegates, including the skull of Parapsicephalus purdoni, on loan from the British Geological Survey. There will also be opportunities to examine the holotypes of Cuspicephalus and Caulkicephalus. Other specimens on display will be announced in the third circular.

Conference dinner

The conference meal will be held in The Royal Maritime Club, adjacent to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. The dinner will cost £37 and will include 3 courses and a half bottle of wine. Any delegates interested in attending should sign-up for the meal when registering for the conference. If you have any specific dietary requirements, please include them in the comments field on the registration form.

Field trips

The fees for the conference field trips to the Isle of Wight and the Jurassic Coast (the second in conjunction with SVPCA 2015) are still to be determined. Delegates are welcome to register their interest for the field trips and will be informed of the price in the third circular.

Accommodation

Accommodation is available in the University of Portsmouth’s Rees Hall for Flugsaurier delegates. There are 50 single rooms available for £45 per night. Double rooms are £63 per night, but will only be available upon request. To register your interest in a room, please tick the appropriate box on the registration form. If you would like a double room, please mention it in the comments section.

Questions or comments should be directed to the organising committee at enquiries@flugsaurier2015.com.

Click here to view a PDF copy.

‘Butterfly-headed’ pterosaurs discovery in Brazil


A new species of flying reptile from the Cretaceous Era, Caiuajara dobruskiii, has been unearthed in southern Brazil. The creature, described in a 2014 PLOS ONE paper, sported a bony crest on its head. Credit: Maurilio Oliveira/Museu Nacional-UFRJ

From Live Science:

Flock of Ancient ‘Butterfly-Headed’ Flying Reptiles Discovered

By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer

August 13, 2014 02:00pm ET

An ancient flying reptile with a bizarre, butterflylike head has been unearthed in Brazil.

The newfound reptile species, Caiuajara dobruskii, lived about 80 million years ago in an ancient desert oasis. The beast sported a strange bony crest on its head that looked like the wings of a butterfly, and had the wingspan needed to take flight at a very young age.

Hundreds of fossils from the reptile were unearthed in a single bone bed, providing the strongest evidence yet that the flying reptiles were social animals, said study co-author Alexander Kellner, a paleontologist at the Museu Nacional/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. [See Images of the Bizarre ‘Butterfly Head’ Reptile]

Rare find

Though pterosaur fossils have been unearthed in northern Brazil, no one knew of pterosaurs fossils in the southern part of the country. In the 1970s, a farmer named Dobruski and his son discovered a massive Cretaceous Period bone bed in Cruzeiro do Oeste in southern Brazil, a region not known for any fossils, Kellner said. The find was forgotten for decades, and then rediscovered just two years ago. The team dubbed the reptile Caiuajara dobruskii, after the geologic formation, called the Caiuá Group, where it was found, as well as the farmer who discovered the species, Kellner said.

C. dobruskii belonged to a group of winged reptiles known as pterosaurs, which are more commonly known as pterodactyls.

Hundreds of bone fragments from the species were crammed in an area of just 215 square feet (20 square meters). At least 47 individuals — and possibly hundreds more — were buried at the site. All but a few were juveniles, though the researchers found everything from youngsters with wingspans of just 2.1 feet (0.65 m) long to adults with wingspans reaching 7.71 feet (2.35 m). The fossils weren’t crushed, so the 3D structure of the animals was preserved, the authors wrote in a research article published today (Aug. 13) in the journal PLOS ONE.

The ancient reptiles’ bony crests changed in size and orientation as the pterosaurs grew.

Because the adult skeletal size (other than the head) wasn’t much different from the juveniles’, the researchers hypothesized that C. dobruskii was fairly precocious and could fly at a young age, Kellner said.

Water congregation

Based on the sediments in which the bones were found, the area was once a vast desert with a central oasis nestled between the sand dunes, the authors wrote in the paper.

Ancient C. dobruskii colonies may have lived around the lake for long periods of time and died during periods of drought or during storms. As the creatures died, the occasional desert storm would wash their remains into the lake, where the watery burial preserved them indefinitely, the researchers said. Another possibility is that the pterosaurs stopped at this spot during ancient migrations, though the authors suspect that is less likely.

The bone bed, with its hundreds of individuals in well-dated geological layers, is some of the strongest evidence yet that the fruit-eating animals were social, Kellner said.

“This was a flock of pterosaurs,” Kellner told Live Science.

This finding, in turn, strengthens evidence that other pterosaur species may have been social as well, the authors wrote in the paper.

Pterosaur exhibition in the USA


This video from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in the USA says about itself:

4 March 2014

They flew with their fingers. They walked on their wings. Some were gigantic, while others could fit in the palm of a hand. Millions of years ago, the skies were ruled by pterosaurs, the first animals with backbones to fly under their own power. In the new exhibition Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs, rare fossils, life-size models, and hands-on interactives bring these ancient animals to life.

Step back in time to see pterosaurs, including giants such as Tropeognathus mesembrinus, with a wingspan of more than 25 feet, and find out how they moved on land and in the air. Get a first-hand look at the rare pterosaur fossils that have helped paleontologists learn all that we know about these animals. In a virtual flight lab, use your body to pilot a pterosaur over a prehistoric landscape. Encounter the exceptional creatures that flew in the age of dinosaurs.

Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs is on view from April 5, 2014, through January 4, 2015. Learn more about the exhibition at http://www.amnh.org/pterosaurs.

This video, linked to the erxhibition, is called Pterosaur App and Card Game.

See also here.

New pterosaur species and their eggs discovered in China


This video is called First 3D Flying Reptile Eggs Discovered in China.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Getting ahead: the new crested pterosaur Hamipterus has researchers aflutter

The newly discovered Chinese flying reptile is preserved in huge numbers and with rarely found eggs

The pterosaurs have often been the poor cousins of their relatives when it comes to the public’s understanding of them. Incorrectly called flying dinosaurs, mixed up as bird or even bat ancestors, and considered leathery-winged gliders that could barely fly, let alone walk, they remain a relic of the ‘animals are extinct because they failed’ idea of the 1800s. In fact pterosaurs were remarkably good fliers and many were also superb on the ground, and their real limitation is that their fossil record is generally so poor.

Pterosaurs had incredibly thin bones and while this may have helped make them relatively light, it means they did not fossilise well. As a result, we don’t have many good pterosaur skeletons (and rarely have multiple individuals of one species), and the ones we do have tend to come from a few restricted places where the preservation at that time was exceptional. Pterosaur eggs are even more rare, with all of none turning up between 1784 (when the first pterosaur was described) and 2004, and in the last decade that number has reach a grand total of four.

So the announcement of a discovery of a whole pile of pterosaurs, and with several eggs as well, is clearly a tremendous find. The newly named Hamipterus tianshanensis (its name roughly means ‘the wing of Hami, in the Tianshan mountains’) is from Xinjiang of northwestern China, and dates to around 100-120 million years ago. The fossils uncovered in this arid region include bones of at least 40 different individuals (and estimates of the number of pterosaur bones in the area run into the thousands) and so far five eggs. That is quite a haul and immediately makes this one of the better represented pterosaurs and makes the area a prime spot for pterosaur research. Moreover, all previously described pterosaur eggs had been flattened into two dimensions, but the ones preserved here are the first even that are available in 3D (if a little squished).

Hamipterus was a medium sized pterosaur with a wingspan of up to 3.5 m. It is referred to a group of pterosaurs called the pteranodontoids which include the famous toothless Pteranodon, but also numerous other pterosaurs including many with large teeth. Members of this group are generally considered to be primarily fish eaters and excellent fliers, catching their food on the wing by snatching fish from the surface of the water. The anatomy of the new find matches this interpretation with a series of long teeth in the thin jaws, and the bones were buried around the margin of a large lake. However, it is in the shape of the top of the head that the real interest lies, with specimens bearing a bony crest that runs along the top of the skull and is much larger in some individuals.

Pterosaurs are in part famous for the wild variety of head crests seen on various species. These include those composed of bone, others of soft tissues and some that combined the two. Over the years various hypotheses have been brought forwards for their function, but the main prevailing idea is that in most forms they likely functioned in some forms of sexual display and / or as social dominance signals. In the case of Hamipterus it is suggested that the different sizes may represent males and females (with the males bearing the larger crest) which is very much a reasonable starting hypothesis, but one that requires a degree of further testing. There’s a huge variation in the size and shape of crests in various things that have them (look at the horns in sheep and antlers in deer) and telling male from female, or young male from old male and so on, can be very difficult.

The data is naturally limited at the moment, but the fact that already numerous different individuals and eggs have turned up together is the first on record. There is obviously the potential here for many more animals to be found, and comparable big aggregations of nesting animals are already known for both ancient birds and non-avian dinosaurs. It would not at all be a surprise if pterosaurs did something similar, and indeed this has been suggested in various quarters a number of times, so thepossibility is there, even if it is currently very tentative. Such a haul of specimens though provides an excellent starting point and there is certainly much more to come from this amazing collection.

Wang et al., Sexually Dimorphic Tridimensionally Preserved Pterosaurs and Their Eggs from China, Current Biology (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.04.054 (Current paywall, but open access in 2 weeks).

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New pterosaur species discovery by four-year-old girl


This video from Britain is called Prehistoric beast named after Isle of Wight girl who found fossil.

Daisy Morris, pterosaur discoverer

From the BBC:

20 March 2013 Last updated at 11:52 GMT

Isle of Wight girl Daisy Morris has flying prehistoric beast named after her

A nine-year-old girl has had a prehistoric beast named in her honour after fossilised bones she found turned out to be an undiscovered species.

Daisy Morris from the Isle of Wight stumbled upon the remains on Atherfield beach four years ago.

A scientific paper stated the newly discovered species of pterosaur would be called Vectidraco daisymorrisae.

Fossil expert Martin Simpson said this was an example of how “major discoveries can be made by amateurs“.

Daisy’s mum Sian Morris said her daughter had started fossil hunting aged three and came across the blackened “bones sticking out of the sand” in 2009, when she was four years old.

The Morris family, from Whitwell, approached Southampton University‘s ‘Fossil Man’ Mr Simpson with Daisy’s finds in 2009.

“I knew I was looking at something very special. And I was right,” said Mr Simpson.

The fossil turned out to be a new genus and species of small pterosaur; a flying reptile from the Lower Cretaceous period:
Vectidraco daisymorrisae. Vectidraco means ‘dragon from the Isle of Wight’, and daisymorrisae honours Daisy Morris

The new species and name was confirmed in a scientific paper published on Monday.

Mr Simpson said the island’s eroding coastline meant the fossil would have been “washed away and destroyed if it had not been found by Daisy”.

Mrs Morris, a teaching assistant, said: “She has a very good eye for tiny little fossils and found these tiny little black bones sticking out of the mud and decided to dig a bit further and scoop them all out.

“We are all very proud of her”.

The pterosaur has since been donated to the Natural History Museum which recently named the Isle of Wight as the “dinosaur capital of Great Britain“.

The confirmation of Vectidraco daisymorrisae comes a week after the discovery on the island of an almost complete skeleton of a 12-feet long dinosaur.

Pterosaurs were flying reptiles that lived in the same time period as dinosaurs, up to 220 millions years ago.

Pterosaur or dinosaur?

Pterosaurs were flying reptiles – the first winged vertebrates
They lived at the same time as the dinosaurs (from about 220 to 65 million years ago) – but were an evolutionarily distinct group
Species ranged from sparrow-sized to the largest known flying creature, with a 12m wingspan

So, Belgian news agency Belga was wrong to call Daisy’s new species a dinosaur.

Why pterosaurs weren’t so scary after all. These flying reptiles are traditionally seen as scaly, ungainly beasts, but the discovery of new fossils has led to some surprising findings: here.

How Pterosaurs Ruled the Skies Above the Dinosaurs: here.

Velociraptor ate pterosaur


This video about dinosaurs is called Velociraptor vs Protoceratops.

From the BBC:

7 March 2012 Last updated at 09:51

Velociraptor‘s last meal revealed

By Ella Davies Reporter, BBC Nature

The bone of a large flying reptile has been found in the gut of a Velociraptor, sparking fresh discussion among palaeontologists.

Velociraptors have previously been described as “hyper predators”.

However, scientists suggest this pterosaur was too large to be the Velociraptor’s intended prey but could have been scavenged.

The findings are published in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology.

An international team of scientists revealed the drama of 75 million years ago with a detailed analysis of the skeleton found in the Gobi desert, Mongolia.

“It would be difficult and probably even dangerous for the small theropod dinosaur to target a pterosaur with a wingspan of 2 metres or more, unless the pterosaur was already ill or injured,” said co-author of the study Dr David Hone, from the University College Dublin, Ireland.

“So the pterosaur bone we’ve identified in the gut of the Velociraptor was most likely scavenged from a carcass rather than the result of a predatory kill.”

Velociraptors were not much taller than domestic turkeys but were thought to be voracious predators.

A famous fossil unearthed in 1971 known as the “fighting dinosaurs” shows a Velociraptor and larger Protoceratops apparently locked in combat.

But evidence of feeding by theropod dinosaurs, such as Velociraptor or Tyrannosaurus rex, are scarce in the fossil record.

Final feast

The 75mm-long pterosaur bone shard was found within the rib cage where the Velociraptor’s gut would have been.

According to Dr Hone the contents of dinosaur’s stomachs often elude scientists as they are rarely preserved.

“Gut contents are pretty rare and pterosaur bones are rather fragile and don’t preserve well, so it is an unusual find.”

In addition to proving that velociraptors took advantage of ailing animals, Dr Hone suggests that the evidence provides a further revelation: that small dinosaurs ate relatively large bones.

By analysing the bones, researchers also found out that the Velociraptor died shortly after feeding on the pterosaur.

The smooth surface of the reptile bones suggest it was not eroded by stomach acids and the team discovered the Velociraptor itself suffered from a broken rib.

“Pretty much all carnivores are both predators and scavengers as the situation dictates – actually getting evidence for that from the fossil record is rather hard [to get] though,” said Dr Hone.

Velociraptor facts

Velociraptors were made famous in the film ‘Jurassic Park’ although in reality they measured 50cm tall and recent research found they were at least partially covered in feathers

Velociraptor means ‘swift seizer’ and may have been capable of reaching speeds of 24mph

They were effective predators with an enlarged sickle-shaped claw on each hindfoot and rows of sharp teeth

Velociraptors would have existed around 71 million years ago during the Upper Cretaceous period

Fossils from two species of velociraptor are known; one was discovered in Mongolia and the other in China

See also here.

The Late Jurassic Pterosaur Rhamphorhynchus, a Frequent Victim of the Ganoid Fish Aspidorhynchus? Here.

Jurassic fail: fish accidentally snags pterosaur, and both die: here.

Pterosaurs Were on the Menu For Ancient Fish and Dinosaurs: here.

Pterosaur named after Thatcher cartoonist


Margaret Thatcher Torydactyl, cartoon by Gerald Scarfe

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

A newly discovered species of prehistoric flying reptile was named after satirical artist Gerald Scarfe today.

The political cartoonist was chosen because of his caricatures of Margaret Thatcher which depicted her as a pointy-nosed “Torydactyl“.

a wordplay on “Pterodactyl

The pterosaur, discovered by a University of Portsmouth palaeontologist, has been named Cuspicephalus scarfi.

A REMARKABLE exhibition of cartoons poking fun at former prime minister Margaret Thatcher by renowned satirical illustrator Gerald Scarfe has opened in Teesdale, County Durham: here.