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Wenupteryx – a newly named South American germanodactylid

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Figure 1. Reconstruction of Wenupteryx based on in situ figure from Codorniu et al 2006, simply moving bone images to restore the standing pterosaur using DGS. They were unable to identify this specimen, but the large pterosaur tree nested it precisely with the germanodactylids.

Wenupteryx uzi is the new name (Codorniú and Gasparini 2007) given to the second Jurassic pterosaur discovered in Argentina (Codorniu et al. 2006, Figs 1-4). Formerly it was known from its specimen number, MOZ 3625. Nearly a complete skeleton, sans the skull, is known from scattered and crushed remains. A recent closeup of the lower hind leg  (Codorniú et al. 2013) permitted a DGS reconstruction of the pes (Fig. 2) in line with its previous phylogenetic nesting within the germanodactylids, between the BMM private specimen and all higher germanodactylids, seen here (Fig. 3).

Codorniú et al. 2013) considered this a tibiatarsus and the loose tarsals distal tarsals. They did not realize there are no tibiotarsi known among pterosaurs. The loose tarsals here (Fig. 2) are proximal tarsals (astragalus and calcaneum) plus one distal tarsal (likely #4).

Figure 2. Colorized bones of the tibia, tarsus and pes of Wenupteryx (from Codorniu and Gasparini 2013) permitted identification of the elements. Not a tibiotarsus, but a fused tibia/fibula and proximal tarsals plus distal tarsal 4 are identified here. Gray and outline areas are restored.

Figure 3. Click to enlarge. Germanodactylus and kin. Wunepteryx (MOZ 3625) is third from right.

Wenupteryx is an important taxon that nests at the base of two higher Germanodactylus clades. One branch leads to dsungaripterids, shenzoupterids and tapejarids. Another branch leads to elanodactylids, eopteranodontids and pteranodontids. So, it is a very plesiomorphic specimen. No wonder it was hard to originally identify (Codorniu et al. 2006).

Figure 4. Wenupteryx in dorsal view as figured by Codorniu et al. 2006. The hypothetical skull in shape and size is a very good guess based on phylogenetic bracketing. Note the nearly right angle femoral heads. This germanodactyloid pterosaur was therefore likely a good runner.

The outgroup taxon, the BMM private specimen sometimes mistakenly considered a large, robust Pterodactylus, is likewise plesiomorphic.

We are going to have to take a serious look at all specimens given the genus Germanodactylus and all of the specimens, like Wenupteryx, nesting between them but given other generic names (Fig. 3).

Codorniú L, Gasparini Z and Paulina-Carabajal A 2006. A late Jurassic pterosaur (Reptilia, Pterodactyloidea) from northwestern Patagonia, Argentina. Journal of South American Earth Sciences 20:283-389.
Codorniú L and Gasparini Z 2007. Pterosauria. Pp. 143-166 in Patagonian Mesozoic Reptiles Gasparini, Salgado and Coria editors. Indiana University Press.
Codorniú L and Gasparini Z 2013. The Late Jurassic pterosaurs from northern Patagonia, Argentina. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 103:1-10.


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