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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e38900. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038900. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

A new crested pterosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Spain: the first European tapejarid (Pterodactyloidea: Azhdarchoidea).

Author information

1
Laboratoire Géosciences Rennes, CNRS UMR 6118, Université de Rennes 1, Rennes, France. romain.vullo@gmail.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The Tapejaridae is a group of unusual toothless pterosaurs characterized by bizarre cranial crests. From a paleoecological point of view, frugivorous feeding habits have often been suggested for one of its included clades, the Tapejarinae. So far, the presence of these intriguing flying reptiles has been unambiguously documented from Early Cretaceous sites in China and Brazil, where pterosaur fossils are less rare and fragmentary than in similarly-aged European strata.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

Europejara olcadesorum gen. et sp. nov. is diagnosed by a unique combination of characters including an unusual caudally recurved dentary crest. It represents the oldest known member of Tapejaridae and the oldest known toothless pterosaur. The new taxon documents the earliest stage of the acquisition of this anatomical feature during the evolutionary history of the Pterodactyloidea. This innovation may have been linked to the development of new feeding strategies.

CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE:

The discovery of Europejara in the Barremian of the Iberian Peninsula reveals an earlier and broader global distribution of tapejarids, suggesting a Eurasian origin of this group. It adds to the poorly known pterosaur fauna of the Las Hoyas locality and contributes to a better understanding of the paleoecology of this Konservat-Lagerstätte. Finally, the significance of a probable contribution of tapejarine tapejarids to the early angiosperm dispersal is discussed.

PMID:
22802931
PMCID:
PMC3389002
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0038900
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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