Research press release


Scientific Reports

Palaeontology: New Australian pterosaur may have survived the longest



今回、Adele Pentlandたちの研究グループは、ウィントン層(オーストラリア・クイーンズランド州)で出土した化石が、翼竜類の新種であることを発見し、「Ferrodraco lentoni」と命名した。Ferroは、ラテン語のferrum(鉄)に由来し、鉄鉱石中に保存されていたことと関係しており、dracoはラテン語で竜を意味する。Pentlandたちは、顎(上顎頂、下顎頂、スパイク状の歯を含む)の形状と特徴に基づいて、これをアンハングエラ属の化石標本と同定した。アンハングエラ属に関する情報は、ブラジルの白亜紀前期のロムアルド層から出土した化石に依拠している。また、Ferrodracoと他のアンハングエラ属の翼竜類の比較によって、Ferrodracoの翼開長が約4メートルであることが示唆された。さらに、Pentlandたちは、Ferrodracoに独特な歯の特徴(例えば、前歯が小さいこと)があり、これによって他のアンハングエラ属の翼竜と区別できることも報告している。


The discovery of a previously unknown species of pterosaur, which may have persisted as late as the Turonian period (90 - 93 million years ago), is reported in Scientific Reports this week. The fossil, which includes parts of the skull and five vertebrae, is the most complete pterosaur specimen ever found in Australia. The findings suggest it may be a late-surviving member of the Anhanguera genus of pterodactyls, which were believed to have gone extinct at the end of the Cenomanian period (100 - 94 million years ago).

Pterosaurs are known from fossils discovered on every continent but their remains are often incomplete and fragmentary because their bones are thin and hollow. The fossil record for pterosaurs in Australia is particularly sparse with only 20 known fragmentary specimens.

Adele Pentland and colleagues discovered the new pterosaur, which they have named Ferrodraco lentoni (from the Latin ferrum (iron), in reference to the ironstone preservation of the specimen, and the Latin draco (dragon)), in the Winton Formation of Queensland. Based on the shape and characteristics of its jaws, including crests on upper and lower jaw and spike-shaped teeth, the authors identified the specimen as belonging to the Anhanguera, which are known from the Early Cretaceous Romualdo Formation of Brazil. Comparison with other anhanguerian pterosaurs suggests that Ferrodraco’s wingspan measured approximately four metres. The authors also report a number of unique dental characteristics, including small front teeth, which distinguish Ferrodraco from other anhanguerians and identify it as a new species.

The fossil was discovered in 2017 in a part of the Winton Formation that may have formed as late as the early Turonian, which suggests that the anhanguerians may have survived later in Australia than elsewhere.

doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49789-4


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