Field of Science

Pterosaurs are Archosauriforms

Nesbitt, S. J., and D. W. E. Hone. 2010. An external mandibular fenestra and other archosauriform character states in basal pterosaurs. Palaeodiversity 3: 225–233.

Abstract - Pterosauria, a successful clade of extinct flying vertebrates, possesses a radical body plan that offers few clues about their origin and closest relatives. Whereas most researchers hypothesize an origin within Archosauria as the sister-group to Dinosauromorpha, others favor a position among non archosauriform archosauromorphs. Here we present evidence that supports a placement within Archosauriformes: the presence of an external mandibular fenestra in two basal pterosaur taxa, Dimorphodon macronyx and a specimen referred to Eudimorphodon cf. ranzii (= ‘Seefeld Eudimorphodon’; BSP 1994 I 51). Furthermore, the arrangement of the mandibular bones surrounding the mandibular fenestra and the presence of a posterior process of the dentary that laterally overlaps the angular in the mandible of Dimorphodon and BSP 1994 I 51 are identical to those of Erythrosuchus, Euparkeria, and Archosauria. When mapped on a cladogram, presence or absence of an external mandibular fenestra in basal pterosaurs possibly indicates that the feature is primitive for Pterosauria but later lost. The presence of an external mandibular fenestra, along with morphological evidence elsewhere in the body of pterosaurs(serrated teeth, antorbital fossa present, fourth trochanter on the femur present), supports a placement of Pterosauria within Archosauriformes and is consistent with a position within Archosauria.

from Nesbitt & Hone 2010 - Palaeodiversitas 3


  1. The journal name is Palaeodiversity. You have it correct at the top of the post, but incorrect in your figure caption.

  2. Much better than the Hone and Benton (2007, 2008) papers, but not very convincing phylogeny-wise unless one is into "key characters". It's like the ABSRDists saying of course Longisquama is an archosaur(-iform) - it has an antorbital fenestra and external mandibular fenestra. Even if it had these characters (which is doubtful), they're only a couple out of hundreds which really should be used to determine phylogeny. Another issue is that these characters are just as congruent with pterosaurs being sister to archosauriforms, as in Renesto and Binelli's (2006) cladogram.


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