A group of scientists has discovered a new species of pterosaur from the early Jurassic period in the Patagonia region of South America.
The discovery was disclosed in a study that was published in the last week of August 2016 in the journal PeerJ.
The study also provides new information on the origin, tempo and mode of evolution in pterosaurs.
Key highlights of the discovery
• The new species has been named Allkauren koi from the native Tehuelche word ‘all’ for ‘brain’, and ‘karuen’ for ‘ancient’.
• The fossil of Allkaruen koi was found in northern central Chubut Province in Argentina. The remains included a well preserved and uncrushed braincase.
• The cranial remains were in an excellent state of preservation.
• Allkaruen, from the middle lower Jurassic limit, shows an intermediate state in the brain evolution of pterosaurs and their adaptations to the aerial environment.
• In order to study the neurocranial anatomy, the researchers used computed tomography to observe, in three dimensions, the cranial endocast and the inner ear.
• Subsequently, a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the group was performed, including these cranial data and other anatomical features.
What are Pterosaurs?
• Pterosaurs are flying reptiles of the extinct order Pterosauria.
• They existed from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous Period (228 to 66 million years ago).
• They are the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight.
• Their wings were formed by a membrane of skin, muscle, and other tissues stretching from the ankles to a dramatically lengthened fourth finger.
• Early species had long, fully toothed jaws and long tails, while later forms had a highly reduced tail, and some lacked teeth.
• They spanned a wide range of adult sizes, from the very small Anurognathids to the largest known flying creatures of all time, including Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx.
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