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Dermodactylus (meaning "skin finger", from Greek derma and daktylos, in reference to pterosaur wings being skin membranes supported by the ring fingers) was a genus of pterodactyloid (general term for "short-tailed" pterosaur) pterosaur from the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian-age Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Wyoming, USA. It is based on a single partial bone, from the hand.

History and classificationEdit

Dermodactylus is based on YPM 2000,[1] a distal right fourth metacarpal found by Samuel Wendell Williston at Como Bluff. This bone constituted at the time the oldest pterosaur remains found, recognized, and described from North America.[2] Othniel Charles Marsh first named it as a species of Pterodactylus:[3] P. montanus, the specific name meaning "from the mountains" in Latin, but soon changed his mind and gave it a new generic name. At the same time he assigned another wing bone, teeth, vertebrae, and a scapulacoracoid to it,[4] but this material is probably too large to belong to the type individual.[5]

Its place within the Pterosauria is uncertain, beyond the Pterodactyloidea.[6] The material it is based on is too meager for further classification (although Carpenter et al.. [2003] note that the shape of the bone's articular end means that it did not belong to an ornithocheirid, a type of short-tailed pterosaur that often had a head crest and/or large teeth),[7] or for adding additional remains to the genus with any certainty, and so it is now regarded as a dubious pterodactyloid.[7][8][9][10] It was not even mentioned in the most recent major popular work on pterosaurs.

PaleobiologyEdit

Marsh suggested it had a wingspan of 1.5-1.8 meters (5-6 feet),[4] but this is including the material excluded by Peter Wellnhofer, who estimates the wingspan of the only known individual at 1 meter (3.28 feet).[2] John Foster estimates its weight at 3.3 kilograms (7.3 pounds). It would probably have been a small aerial carnivore.

GalleryEdit

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