Bellubrunnus

Bellubrunnus (meaning "the beautiful one of Brunn" in Latin) is an extinct genus of rhamphorhynchid pterosaur from the Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian stage) of southern Germany. It contains a single species, Bellubrunnus rothgaengeri. Bellubrunnus is distinguished from other rhamphorhynchids by its lack of long projections on the vertebrae of the tail, fewer teeth in the jaws, and wingtips that curve forward rather than sweep backward as in other pterosaurs.[1]

Bellubrunnus
Temporal range: Late Jurassic, 151 Ma
Bellubrunnus
The holotype specimen of Bellubrunnus, BSP–1993–XVIII–2
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Pterosauria
Family: Rhamphorhynchidae
Subfamily: Rhamphorhynchinae
Genus: Bellubrunnus
Hone et al., 2012
Type species
Bellubrunnus rothgaengeri
Hone et al., 2012

Discovery

Bellubrunnus UV
Holotype BSP–1993–XVIII–2 lit under multiple UV wavelengths
Bellubrunnus diagram
Diagram of the holotype

Bellubrunnus is known from a single complete articulated skeleton, the holotype of the genus, having the accession number BSP–1993–XVIII–2. It was found in the summer of 2002 by an excavation team led by Monika Rothgaenger, the namesake of the species. It was prepared in 2003 by Martin Kapitzke and at first identified as an exemplar of Rhamphorhynchus. It is preserved in ventral view, meaning that the underside of the skeleton can be seen on the limestone slab. The specimen is currently housed in the Bürgermeister-Müller-Museum, although it is cataloged for, and a possession of, the Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und historische Geologie. It comes from a quarry at Kohlstatt near the village of Brunn, Upper Palatinate, in a layer of rock that underlies the better-known Solnhofen Limestone. The quarry dates to the late Kimmeridgian stage of the Late Jurassic period, about 151 million years ago. Ultraviolet lighting revealed many details of the fossil but showed no preserved soft tissues.[1]

Etymology

Bellubrunnus was first described and named by David W. E. Hone, Helmut Tischlinger, Eberhard Frey and Martin Röper in 2012 and the type and only species is Bellubrunnus rothgaengeri. The generic name is derived from the Latin bellus meaning 'beautiful' and brunnus in reference to Brunn, its type locality. The combination then means 'the beautiful one of Brunn'. The specific name, rothgaengeri, honors Monika Rothgaenger for finding the holotype.[1]

Description

Bellubrunnus skull
Close up of the skull
Bellubrunnus skull diagram
Diagram of the skull

The holotype specimen of Bellubrunnus represents a small individual, with a wingspan of less than a foot, and is one of the smallest pterosaur fossils known. Nearly every bone is preserved in BSP–1993–XVIII–2, although no soft tissues have been found, neither as impressions nor as organic remains. The entire skeleton is complete except for missing parts of the right foot and tail tip. Because the skeleton is preserved in ventral view, many details of the skull ("sk" in the skeletal diagram) are obscured by the lower jaws (dentary, "dt" + angular, "ar" in the skull diagram). Many skull bones are also crushed and distorted, and some such as the maxillae ("mx"), nasal bones ("ns"), and sclerotic rings ("scl") are displaced. Part of the underside of the skull roof (perhaps the frontals, "?fr") can be seen among the bones of the lower jaws, palate (palatine bone, "pl" + pterygoid, "pt"), and braincase (parasphenoid, "ps" + basipterygoids, "bpt"). Twenty-one small teeth are preserved splaying out from the jaws. These were by the describers assumed to represent most of the original number, giving a total of twenty-two tooth positions — or twenty if a small element would be a replacement tooth — although it is not certain how they were divided between the upper jaws and the lower jaws. The teeth are elongated, straight, pointed and circular in cross-section. Although it is flattened on the slab, the skull is thought to have been tall at the back with a shortened snout. The eyes are very large relative to the size of the skull, occupying around a third of its total length. Both a shortened skull and large eyes are considered characteristics of juvenile pterosaurs, and other features, such as unfused skull bones and poorly ossified limb bones, suggest that BSP–1993–XVIII–2 was an immature individual when it died. The unfused scapulocoracoid bone — with the straight scapula ("sc") and coracoid ("co") still separate — in the pectoral girdle suggests that it may have been less than one year old.

The tooth number of twenty-two or less was indicated as an autapomorphy, or unique derived trait, of Bellubrunnus. Several distinguishing features are also present in the limbs of Bellubrunnus. The large hatchet-shaped deltopectoral crest of the humerus ("hu") or upper arm bone, in this case more precisely in the form of a rounded tongue, is one of the features that indicate that Bellubrunnus is a member of Rhamphorhynchidae, but the great length of the humerus in comparison to the length of the femur ("fe") or upper leg bone, with a ratio of 1.4, distinguishes it from other rhamphorhynchids and is a second autapomorphy. The humerus is also straight at the lower end, unlike the twisted humeri seen in other related pterosaurs, a third unique trait. A fourth autapomorphy is that the thighbone lacks a "neck" between its head and the shaft.[1] In terms of the proportions of limb bones, Bellubrunnus most closely resembles the rhamphorhynchid Rhamphorhynchus, which is also known from Germany.

Another distinguishing feature of Bellubrunnus is the shortness of its chevrons and zygapophyses on the caudal or tail vertebrae ("cdv"), indicating the tail was relatively flexible. In other rhamphorhynchids such as Dorygnathus, these bony projections are extremely elongated, and the zygapophyses are long enough to overlap a series of vertebrae behind them.

O'Sullivan and Martill (2015) found the majority of the purported distinguishing characters of Bellubrunnus to be problematic, stressing especially the lack of in-depth studies into the way rhamphorhynchid skeletons changed through ontogeny; this means that it remains uncertain whether the differences between Bellubrunnus and Rhamphorhynchus do indeed confirm that they are distinct taxa or whether these differences are merely ontogenetic in nature. The authors also noted that, given the severely crushed nature of the skull of Bellubrunnus, it is uncertain whether the number of teeth given by Hone et al. (2012) is indeed accurate, as more teeth may be covered by bone of missing from the holotype specimen. O'Sullivan and Martill found Bellubrunnus and Rhamphorhynchus to be similar enough for the former genus to be considered a junior synonym of the latter. The authors, however, noted that two characters of the species Bellubrunnus rothgaengeri (the lack of elongate caudal supports on the vertebrae and the anteriorly curving wing phalanx IV) make it possible that it is not conspecific with Rhamphorhynchus muensteri.[2]

Wings

Bellubrunnus rothgaengeri
Life restoration of Bellubrunnus showing forward-curving wingtips

In BSP–1993–XVIII–2, in both the left wing and the right wing the last finger bone or distal (fourth) phalanx bone ("wpx4") that supports the wing is curved, and preserved curving forward. The describers interpreted this as the natural position, assuming the third phalanx of the right wing finger ("wpx3") and most of the left wing finger had rotated 180° along their long axes relative to the fourth phalanges, as indicated by the orientation of the joint surfaces. Awaiting confirmation by a second specimen, the trait has not been formally indicated as an autapomorphy. Some other pterosaurs have curved distal phalanges, but in most cases the curvature is thought to have been the result of fractured bones or developmental problems specific to the individuals with this feature, and they always curve backwards. Although their exact function is unknown, curved wingtips, inducing instability by increased air resistance and turbulence, may have allowed Bellubrunnus to maneuver itself better in the air. They also may, in combination with a different orientation of the actinofibrils of the wing membrane, have stabilized the soft tissue flaps at the ends of the wings, which were expanded in most pterosaurs and may have been prone to fluttering.[1]

Phylogeny

Bellubrunnus was assigned to the Rhamphorhynchidae and more precisely to the Rhamphorhynchinae.

Paleoecology

The stratigraphic unit in the Brunn quarry where the Bellubrunnus holotype was found is almost identical to the Solnhofen Limestone, but slightly older. Like the Solnhofen, the Brunn limestones were likely laid down in the lagoons and reefs of an island region. It is similar to the Solnhofen in that it preserves fossils of land-living flora and fauna alongside marine organisms. Brunn lacks many of the reptiles that have been found from Solnhofen, and while many specimens of Rhamphorhynchus have been found in the Solnhofen Limestone, the single Bellubrunnus specimen is the only known pterosaur from Brunn. Bellubrunnus may have occupied the same ecological niche as Rhamphorhynchus, that of a piscivore or fish-eater, and may even have been its direct evolutionary ancestor, forming a chronogenus relation within a single persisting population, although more fossils are needed to confirm this relationship.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Hone, D. W. E.; Tischlinger, H.; Frey, E.; Röper, M. (2012). Claessens, Leon (ed.). "A New Non-Pterodactyloid Pterosaur from the Late Jurassic of Southern Germany". PLoS ONE. 7 (7): e39312. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039312. PMC 3390345. PMID 22792168.
  2. ^ Michael O'Sullivan and David M. Martill (2015). "Evidence for the presence of Rhamphorhynchus (Pterosauria: Rhamphorhynchinae) in the Kimmeridge Clay of the UK". Proceedings of the Geologists' Association. 126 (3): 390–401. doi:10.1016/j.pgeola.2015.03.003.
Anchisauria

The Anchisauria were a clade of sauropodomorph dinosaurs that lived during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. The name Anchisauria was first used by Galton and Upchurch in the second edition of The Dinosauria. Galton and Upchurch assigned two families of dinosaurs to the Anchisauria: the Anchisauridae and the Melanorosauridae. The more common prosauropods Plateosaurus and Massospondylus were placed in the sister clade Plateosauria.

However, recent research indicates that Anchisaurus is closer to sauropods than traditional prosauropods; thus, Anchisauria would also include Sauropoda.The following cladogram simplified after an analysis presented by Blair McPhee and colleagues in 2014.

Averostra

Averostra, or "bird snouts", is a clade that includes most theropod dinosaurs that have a promaxillary fenestra (fenestra promaxillaris), an extra opening in the front outer side of the maxilla, the bone that makes up the upper jaw. Two groups of averostrans, the Ceratosauria and the Orionides, survived into the Cretaceous period. When the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event occurred, ceratosaurians and two groups of orionideans within the clade Coelurosauria, the Tyrannosauroidea and Maniraptoriformes, were still extant. Only one subgroup of maniraptoriformes, Aves, survived the extinction event and persisted to the present day.

Avetheropoda

Avetheropoda, or "bird theropods", is a clade that includes carnosaurians and coelurosaurs to the exclusion of other dinosaurs.

Cerapoda

Cerapoda ("ceratopsians and ornithopods") is a clade of the dinosaur order Ornithischia.

Dinosauriformes

Dinosauriformes is a clade of archosaurian reptiles that include the dinosaurs and their most immediate relatives. All dinosauriformes are distinguished by several features, such as shortened forelimbs and a partially to fully perforated acetabulum, the hole in the hip socket traditionally used to define dinosaurs. The oldest known member is Asilisaurus, dating to about 245 million years ago in the Anisian age of the middle Triassic period.

Haya griva

Haya is an extinct genus of basal neornithischian dinosaur known from Mongolia.

Jeholosauridae

Jeholosaurids were herbivorous neornithischian dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period (Aptian - Santonian, with a possible Campanian record) of Asia. The family was first proposed by Han et al. in 2012. The jeholosaurids were defined as those ornithischians more closely related to Jeholosaurus shangyuanensis than to Hypsilophodon foxii, Iguanodon bernissartensis, Protoceratops andrewsi, Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis, or Thescelosaurus neglectus. The Jeholosauridae includes the type genus Jeholosaurus and Yueosaurus.

Jingshanosaurus

Jingshanosaurus (meaning "Jingshan lizard") is a genus of sauropodomorph dinosaurs from the early Jurassic period.

Melanorosauridae

The Melanorosauridae were a family of sauropodomorph dinosaurs which lived during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. The name Melanorosauridae was first coined by Friedrich von Huene in 1929. Huene assigned several families of dinosaurs to the infraorder "Prosauropoda": the Anchisauridae, the Plateosauridae, the Thecodontosauridae, and the Melanorosauridae. Since then, these families have undergone numerous revisions. Galton and Upchurch (2004) considered Camelotia, Lessemsaurus, and Melanorosaurus members of the family Melanorosauridae. A more recent study by Yates (2007) indicates that the melanorosaurids were instead early sauropods.

Neotheropoda

Neotheropoda (meaning "new theropods") is a clade that includes coelophysoids and more advanced theropod dinosaurs, and the only group of theropods who survived the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Yet all of the neotheropods became extinct during the early Jurassic period except for Averostra.

Orionides

Orionides is a clade of tetanuran theropod dinosaurs from the Middle Jurassic to the Present. The clade includes most theropod dinosaurs, including birds.

Orodrominae

Orodrominae is a subfamily of parksosaurid dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of North America and Asia.

Raeticodactylidae

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Rhamphorhynchidae

Rhamphorhynchidae is a group of early "rhamphorhynchoid" pterosaurs named after Rhamphorhynchus, that lived in the Late Jurassic. The family Rhamphorhynchidae was named in 1870 by Harry Govier Seeley.

Riojasauridae

Riojasauridae is a family of sauropod-like dinosaurs from the Upper Triassic. It is known primarily from the genera Riojasaurus and Eucnemesaurus. Sites containing Riojasauridae include the Lower Elliot Formation of Orange Free State, South Africa (where fossils of Eucnemesaurus have been found), and Ischigualasto, in La Rioja Province, Argentina ( where fossils of Riojasaurus have been recovered).

Thescelosaurinae

Thescelosaurinae is a subfamily of ornithischian dinosaurs from the Early Cretaceous of Asia and the Late Cretaceous of North America.

Unaysauridae

Unaysauridae is a family of basal sauropodomorphs from the Late Triassic of India and Brazil.

Xixiposaurus

Xixiposaurus is a genus of prosauropod dinosaur which existed in what is now Lower Lufeng Formation, China during the lower Jurassic period. It was first named by Sekiya Toru in 2010 and the type species is Xixiposaurus suni.

Yueosaurus

Yueosaurus is an extinct genus of basal ornithopod dinosaur known from Zhejiang Province, China.

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