Pterosaur Fossil from Cretaceous China
Sinopterus gui from Liaoning

Sinopterus gui

Class Sauropsida, Order Pterosauria, Suborder Pterodactyloidea, Family Tapejaridae

Geological Time: Lower Cretaceous (~110 m.y.a.)

Size (25.4 mm = 1 inch): 350 mm long (top of skull to tip of toes) 725 mm wingspan (if outstretched) with a 115 mm skull

Fossil Site: Jiufotang Formation, Dapingfang, Chaoyang, Liaoning Province of China

Description: An Early Cretaceous pterosaur from Liaoning Province, this remarkably-well preserved specimen is a member of the Tapejaridae known as Sinopterus gui. The taxon was described in 2002 (Acta Palaeontologica Sinica, Vol 42, No 3, pp 442-447) as the second member of this unusual family of Pterosaurs whose namesake genus (Tapejara) comes from the slightly younger Santana Formation of Brazil (see drawing Tapejara Jaclyn D Adamek artists rendering of Family Tapejaridaewellnhoferi, top; Sinopterus dongi, middle, Sinopterus gui, bottom). The Tapejaridae are thought to have had an elaborate non-bony crest. A hint of that seems to be present beginning about the front of the preorbital opening of the skull, then widening out to 1.5X the skull depth Pterosauriabefore tapering off at the back of the skull. This one differs from the conspecific Sinopterus dongi by having a less steep forward edge of the skull. Both are known from nearly complete specimens such as you see here. The preservation is excellent for a creature in which the bones were hollow and paper thin to minimize weight. This specimen is quite detailed, with most bones present in articulation as found in life. All the material here is original to this specimen. As is commonly the case, there are repaired matrix cracks as a result of field collection. This is a fine representative of the taxon whose largest known specimen has a 1.2 meter wingspan.

Wang Xiaolin & Zhou Zhonghe: A new pterosaur (Pterodactyloidea, Tapejaridae) from the Early Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation of western Liaoning, China and its implications for biostratigraphy
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044, China

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