Friday, June 14, 2013

Ornithocheiridae Should Be Destroyed (or at least discarded)

Taxonomic review of the Ornithocheirus complex (Pterosauria) from the Cretaceous of England


1. Taissa Rodrigues (a)
2. Alexander Wilhelm Armin Kellner (b)


a. Department of Biology, Agrarian Sciences Center, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo. Alto Universitário s/n, Caixa Postal 16, Guararema, CEP 29500–000, Alegre, ES, Brazil

b. Laboratory of Systematics and Taphonomy of Fossil Vertebrates, Department of Geology and Paleontology, Museu Nacional / Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Quinta da Boa Vista s/n, São Cristóvão, CEP 20940–040, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil


Over a decade after the last major review of the Cambridge Greensand pterosaurs, their systematics remains one of the most disputed points in pterosaur taxonomy. Ornithocheiridae is still a wastebasket for fragmentary taxa, and some nomenclatural issues are still a problem. Here, the species from the Cretaceous of England that, at some point, were referred in Ornithocheirus, are reviewed. Investigation of the primary literature confirmed that Criorhynchus should be considered an objective junior synonym of Ornithocheirus. Taxonomic review of more than 30 species known from fragmentary remains showed that 16 of them are undiagnosable (nomina dubia): Palaeornis cliftii, Cimoliornis diomedeus, Pterodactylus compressirostris, Pterodactylus fittoni, Pterodactylus woodwardi, Ornithocheirus brachyrhinus, Ornithocheirus carteri, Ornithocheirus crassidens, Ornithocheirus dentatus, Ornithocheirus enchorhynchus, Ornithocheirus eurygnathus, Ornithocheirus oxyrhinus, Ornithocheirus scaphorhynchus, Ornithocheirus tenuirostris, Ornithocheirus xyphorhynchus, and Pterodactylus sagittirostris. Fourteen species are considered valid, and diagnoses are provided to all of them: Ornithocheirus simus, Lonchodraco giganteus comb. n., Lonchodraco machaerorhynchus comb. n., Lonchodraco(?) microdon comb. n., Coloborhynchus clavirostris, ‘Ornithocheirus’ capito, Camposipterus nasutus comb. n., Camposipterus(?) sedgwickii comb. n., Camposipterus(?) colorhinus comb. n., Cimoliopterus cuvieri comb. n., ‘Ornithocheirus’ polyodon, ‘Ornithocheirus’ platystomus, ‘Pterodactylus’ daviesii, and ‘Ornithocheirus’ denticulatus. These species are referred in the genera Ornithocheirus, Lonchodraco gen. n., Coloborhynchus, Cimoliopterus gen. n., and Camposipterus gen. n., but additional genera are probably present, as indicated by the use of single quotation marks throughout the text. A cladistic analysis demonstrates that Anhangueridae lies within a newly recognized clade, here named Anhangueria, which also includes the genera Cearadactylus, Brasileodactylus, Ludodactylus, and Camposipterus. The anhanguerian ‘Cearadactylus’ ligabuei belongs to a different genus than Cearadactylus atrox. Lonchodraconidae fam. n. (more or less equivalent to Lonchodectidae sensu Unwin 2001) is a monophyletic entity, but its exact phylogenetic position remains uncertain, as is the case of Ornithocheirus simus. Therefore, it is proposed that Ornithocheiridae should be constricted to its type species and thus is redundant. Other taxa previously referred as “ornithocheirids” are discussed in light of the revised taxonomy.

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