Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Nyctosaurus - a pterosaur with a large crest (BDW repost)

This is a repost from my "extinct" Geocities site.

Illustration of Nyctosaurus KJ2 flying - by Beri (digital), Copyright © 2004 BERI

Christopher Bennett from University of Bridgeport Bridgeport, CT, described a couple of exciting fossil specimens of pterosaurs: Nyctosaurus - a pterosaur with a large crest
Bennett S. C. 2003. New crested specimens of the Late Cretaceous pterosaur Nyctosaurus. - Palaeontologische Zeitschrift, 77 (1): 61-75, 6 figs., 1 tab.; Stuttgart.

Nyctosaurus turned out to have an extremely large cranial crest nearly three times the length of the skull and bifurcating into an upward extending and a shorter backward extending ramus. Whether these supported a sail-like membrane is at the moment a pure speculation. As Chris notes: "I discussed the question of a membrane between the two rami of the crest in the paper and concluded that there was no evidence of any membrane between the rami and good reason to think that there was not one. Despite that, for some reason that I cannot understand everyone else seems to think that there was a membrane between the rami." Evidence is based on 2 specimens in a private collection. No species name is applied and the specimens are refereed to as KJ1&KJ2.

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