Monday, November 19, 2012

The origin of pterosaurs (2)

From David Peters:
Click to enlarge:
Cosesaurus is a genus of  prolacertiform archosauromorph reptile. It is known from a single, hand-sized fossil from the middle Triassic period of Spain. The fossil is a perfect impression of a largely articulated and complete specimen preserving soft parts, including an adhering jellyfish, but no bones remain in these impressions.
In 1977, Ellenberger proposed that Cosesaurus was an ancestor of modern birds.[1] That publication followed the description of the bird-like theropod,Deinonychus, but it appeared long before the theropod ancestry of birds had been widely accepted. In his large and highly detailed treatise, Ellenberger interpreted the following traits in the fossil: a strap-like scapula, a furcula(wishbone), a keeled sternum, beak-like jaws, a retroverted pubis and tailfeathers. Some of these interpretations have not been supported by subsequent research. Padian and Chiappe (1998) regarded Cosesaurus as a member of the archosauromorph clade Prolacertiformes.[2]
Ellenberger and DeVillalta (1974) and Ellenberger (1978, 1993) considered Cosesaurus a bird ancestor, and as such Ellenberger interpreted many aspects of Cosesaurus as proto-avian.
Sharovipteryx ("Sharov's wing", known until 1981 as Podopteryx, "foot wing"), was an early gliding reptile, from the middle-late Triassic period (230-225 million years ago). Fossils have been found from the Madygen Formation ofKyrgyzstan along with the unusual reptile Longisquama. It was approximately eight inches (20 cm) long, with an extremely long tail, and weighed about 7.5 grams. It may have been closely related — or perhaps even ancestral — to pterosaurs,[1] although this remains controversial. Unlike pterosaurs, its main flight membrane was stretched between long back legs rather than its very short front limbs.If Sharovipteryx was a relative of pterosaurs, then its membrane may have stretched to its front legs, or it may have had a separate membrane joined to its front limbs alone. A secondary membrane is visible between the thighs and the trunk. Front wing membranes have not been seen; Peters (2006) has claimed to have traced the fingers[2] and that they show similarities to Cosesaurusand Longisquama and to a lesser extent, pterosaurs.

Note that David Peters no longer considers Cosesaurus to be a member of Archosauromorpha.

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