An international team of paleontologists led by Dr. Junchang Lü from Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, has announced the discovery of a new species of long-tailed pterosaur.
Ventral view of Qinglongopterus guoi on a slab (Dr. Junchang Lü et al)
In the paper, published online on Jan. 12 in the journal Zootaxa, the paleontologists describe a heavily compressed, but nearly complete skeleton of a new long-tailed pterosaur species, named Qinglongopterus guoi, which also represents a new genus of pterosaurs.
"The specimen is largely preserved in articulation and was likely complete when found, but appears to have lost the distal portion of the tail during collection,” Dr. Lü and his co-authors wrote in the paper.
The species is named in honor of Chen Guo, who found the fossil remains in the Jurassic Tiaojishan Formation of Mutoudeng in Qinglong County, Hebei Province, China, and offered them for scientific research. The name of the genus refers to Qinglong, the Chinese administrative unit, where the species was discovered.
"The holotype and only known specimen has an estimated forelimb length of 0.18 m. The new taxon is distinguished by a relatively short skull, a remarkably short pteroid with a distinctive knob-like distal expansion, and a prepubis with a relatively slender distal process.”
The researchers suggested that this individual is a juvenile rather than a subadult, or an adult.
Dorsal view of Qinglongopterus guoi on a slab (Dr. Junchang Lü et al)
They also found that Qinglongopterus guoi is strikingly similar to Rhamphorhynchus muensteri, one of the best known pterosaurs with over a hundred specimens collected from the Late Jurassic Solnhofen limestones of Bavaria, Germany.
"Qinglongopterus guoi was recovered from the Tiaojishan Formation, now reliably dated as latest Middle (Callovian) to earliest Upper Jurassic (Oxfordian) in age (160 million years), while Rhamphorhynchus muensteri is from the Solnhofen limestones (150.8 million years) indicating a temporal gap between the two of 9–10 million years,” wrote researchers. “The differences between these taxa are so minor that the lineage to which they belonged (Rhamphorhynchinae) appears to have experienced near evolutionary stasis in the Upper Jurassic.”
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