|Tupandactylus navigans reclining by sunset, pycnofibres a-glowing.|
To celebrate this navel-gazing milestone, here's another preview image from the book. It shows the Brazilian tapejarid Tupandactylus navigans at sunset, it's fur-like pycnofibres glowing in the diminishing light. This painting is one of the large paintings that accompanies the start of each chapter and, specifically, it opens Chapter 5: "Soft bits". Each of these large paintings was designed to draw focus to the topic of its chapter. Deciding on the basic composition was easy enough for many chapters, but those focussing on soft-tissue anatomy and osteology proved to be a little bit of a head scratcher. How do you draw specific attention to tissues comprising pterosaur bodies rather than the pterosaur itself? The answer for "Soft bits" at leastseemed to lie in back lighting a pterosaur body so that most of the animal was obscured, save for a halo of illuminated fuzz. Tupandactylus navigans was chosen because it's enormous soft-tissue headcrest (below) contributed to the already unusual outline of a pterosaur body to make a more startling image. "Soft bits" takes on a variety of other soft tissues as well - brains, lungs, guts, skin, wing membranes and so forth - but these seemed harder to bring out without cutting a pterosaur open.
|Tupandactylus navigans holotype skull SMNK PAL 2344, showing the crazy headgear sported by some tapejarid species. Remember that this crest is not the largest worn by a tapejarid pterosaur. From Witton (2013).|
That's all for this week. Next week: pterosaur mummies!
P.S. 'Tupandactylus' navigans? Who he?
Finally, a quick note on the nomenclature used in this post. Readers familiar with tapejarid taxonomy may notice that I'm treating navigans as part of the genus Tupandactylus, whereas it has typically been referred to Tapejara or "Tapejara" by other workers. The nomenclatural history of navigans is a little complicated. It was initially placed in the genus Tapejara (Frey et al. 2003) along with two other species, T. wellnhoferi and imperator. Two teams of authors independently revised the taxonomy of this genus in 2007, with Kellner and Campos (2007) moving imperator to a novel genus, Tupandactylus and Unwin and Martill (2007) creating another new genus, Ingridia, for navigans and imperator, with the latter as the type species. The work of Kellner and Campos was published just before Unwin and Martill and, because they both used imperator as the type taxon of their respective genera, Ingridia must be considered synonymous with Tupandactylus. Kellner and Campos (2007) hinted that navigans was also probably a member of Tupandactylus, but Darren Naish suggested that it may still warrant generic distinction from imperator in a 2008 Tetrapod Zoology article. navigans has been in taxonomic limbo since then, but recent phylogenetic work (e.g. Pinheiro et al. 2011 and my own studies, presented last year at SVPCA 2012 and hopefully being turned into a fully fledged paper when I get the time) has found support for a navigans + imperator clade which bears out earlier suggestions that these species are congeneric. These discussions about generic labels are fairly arbitrary and someone may eventually decide to generically split navigans from tupandactylus but, until then, it seems reasonable to house navigans within the Tupandactylus stable.
- Frey, E., Martill, D. M., and Buchy, C. C. 2003. A new species of tapejarid pterosaur with soft tissue head crest. In: Buffetaut, E. and Mazin, J. M. (eds.) Evolution and Palaeobiology of Pterosaurs, Geological Society Special Publication, 217, 65-72.
- Kellner, A. W. A. and Campos, D. A. 2007. Short note on the ingroup relationships of the Tapejaridae (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea). Boletim do Museu Nacional, Nova Séroe, Rio de Janeiro - Brasil. Geologia, 75, 1-14.
- Unwin, D. M. and Martill, D. M. 2007. Pterosaurs from the Crato Formation. In: Martill, D. M., Bechly, G. and Loveridge, R. F. (eds) Window into an ancient world: the Crato fossil beds of Brazil, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 624 pp.
- Pinheiro, F. L., Fortier, D. C., Schultz, C. L., De Andrade, J. A. F., and Bantim, R. A. 2011. New information on the pterosaur Tupandactylus imperator, with comments on the relationships of Tapejaridae. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 56(3), 567-580.
- Witton, M. P. 2013. Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy. Princeton University Press. [In press]