Exclusive Sampler from Pterosaurs by Mark P. Witton

We highly recommend downloading or opening the source PDF for the sampler, available here: http://blog.press.princeton.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/PterosaursSampler.pdf

The embedded PDF below does not properly display the beauty of the cover, but you can still get a sense of the awesome content of the book. Happy Reading!

Want to learn more about this book? Check it out here: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9967.html

Mark Witton explains exactly what is in his new book, Pterosaurs

Pterosaurs is meant to provide an interesting read for researchers and diehard enthusiasts, while still being approachable for those who are yet to really acquaint themselves with flying reptiles. If you’re familiar with the Unwin and Wellnhofer books, you know the tone I’ve aimed for. (Those interested in reading a sample of the text will want to download the first chapter from Princeton University Press, and check out an early draft [essentially unchanged in the published text] of Chapter 17.) Pterosaurs is, of course, more up to date than either of these books. Only seven years passing between this book and the last, but the differences are quite pronounced. Despite both Unwin’s and Wellnhofer’s books dating very well, whole groups of pterosaurs have been discovered since their publications (e.g. ‘boreopterids’, chaoyangopterids, wukongopterids, and many more in the case of Wellnhofer’s tome) and ideas of pterosaur lifestyles and habits have changed considerably. It’s of small significance in this field of three modern pterosaur books but, by default, Pterosaurs is the most up to date synthesis on these animals currently available.

Thalassodromeus sethi, a pterosaur with a most unfortunate name, showing a baby Brazilian spinosaur that the food chain works both ways. One of my favourite paintings from Witton (2013).

Pterosaurs is meant to combine the best aspects of preceding pterosaur books into one package, putting Unwin’s terrific introduction to the group together with Wellnhofer’s coverage of all pterosaur species and important fossils. This results in nine chapters covering the broad-strokes of pterosaur research: the history of their discovery, evolutionary origins, osteology, soft-tissues, locomotion (flight and terrestrial locomotion are discussed separately), palaeoecology and extinction. The other 16 chapters focus on specific pterosaur groups, each featuring a history of discovery, distribution maps, overviews of anatomy (including soft-tissues, where known) and discussions of palaeoecology. These latter chapters broadly follow the phylogenetic scheme of Lü et al. (2010) but, because that will not please everyone, alternative taxonomic proposals are mentioned and discussed where relevant (though hopefully not at expense of readability!). Attempts to present different sides to contentious issues are continual throughout the book. As readers will discover, there is still a lot to learn about these animals and it would be foolish to present only a single view as ‘right’ when pterosaur science continues to evolve and change. The drive to give everyone fair hearing resulted in a reference list of over 500 works and, hopefully, this will make the book a useful starting point for students new to pterosaurs and wanting to hit the primary literature. (Incidentally, Lü Junchang needs to take a bow as probably the most prolific modern pterosaur worker, his portion of the citation list dwarfing virtually everyone else’s despite only beginning in the mid-nineties. Way to go, JC!)

 

Read the complete post over at Mark’s blog: http://markwitton-com.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/pterosaurs-natural-history-evolution.html

 

 

bookjacket

Pterosaurs
Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy
Mark P. Witton

PGS Daily Dinosaur – Hypacrosaurus (Lambeosaurus) magnicristatus

Our last Daily Dinosaur is Hypacrosaurus (or Lambeosaurus) magnicristatus, whose first name (Hypacrosaurus) means “near the highest lizard,” because it was almost – but not quite – as large as the Tyrannosaurus. He seems much friendlier, too. Scroll down to see a headshot of this dinosaur, along with a colorful illustration of other members of the Lambeosaurus family, and some information about Hypacrosaurus magnicristatus. Be sure to check out the other Daily Dinosaurs, and look out for Gregory S. Paul’s Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs!

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.

Hypacrosaurus (Lambeosaurus) magnicristatus
7 m (23 ft) TL, 2.5 tonnes
FOSSIL REMAINS A few skulls, part of skeleton.
ANATOMICAL CHARACTERISTICS Extremely large, oblong crest atop back of head.
AGE Late Cretaceous, Late Campanian.
DISTRIBUTION AND FORMATION Alberta; uppermost Dinosaur Park.
HABITAT Well-watered, forested floodplain with coastal swamps and marshes, cool winters.
NOTES May be the direct descendent of H. lambei.

PGS Daily Dinosaur – Edmontonia rugosidens

We seem to be on a roll with the armor-plated, spiny dinosaurs! Today’s Daily Dinosaur, Edmontonia rugosidens, is just as tough as the other two we have posted, and may have used its massive shoulder spikes to charge at enemies and defend itself. Read more below, or click here to see the other Daily Dinosaurs.

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
Edmontonia rugosidens
6 m (19 ft) TL, 3 tonnes
FOSSIL REMAINS Several complete skulls and majority of skeletons.
ANATOMICAL CHARACTERISTICS Belly and hip extremely broad. Armor plate covered cheeks, large, forward-directed spikes on flank of neck and shoulder, one spine partly split, no spines on main trunk or hips.
AGE Late Cretaceous, Middle and/or Late Campanian.
DISTRIBUTION AND FORMATION Montana, Alberta?; Upper Two Medicine, possibly middle Dinosaur Park, Judith River.
HABITAT Well-watered, forested floodplain with coastal swamps and marshes and drier upland woodlands.
HABITS May have charged at opponents within species and tyrannosaurids with shoulder spikes, also hunkered down on the belly and used armor to avoid being wounded while using the great breadth of the body to prevent being overturned.
NOTES It is not certain whether this species is known outside the Two Medicine Formation.

PGS Daily Dinosaur – Gastonia burgei

While perhaps not as well-known as yesterday’s Stegosaurus stenops, this spiny fellow also boasts impressive plated armor, making it tough for any sharp-toothed predator to take a bite! Gregory Paul again provides three illustrations of the skeleton and outer surface, helping us get to know Gastonia burgei. Scroll down to learn more, or click here to read about the other Daily Dinosaurs.

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
Gastonia burgei
5 m (17 ft) TL, 1.9 tonnes
FOSSIL REMAINS A few skulls and skeletons from nearly complete to partial.
ANATOMICAL CHARACTERISTICS Head very small, heavily armored, no teeth on front of upper jaw. Arm and leg very short. Belly extremely broad. Large sidewaysprojecting shoulder spines, no lateral spines at hip, modest spines on side of tail.
AGE Early Cretaceous, Barremian.
DISTRIBUTION AND FORMATION Utah; Lower Cedar Mountain.
HABITAT Short wet season, otherwise semiarid with floodplain prairies, open woodlands, and riverine forests.

PGS Daily Dinosaur – Stegosaurus stenops

You’ll probably recognize today’s iconic Daily Dinosaur, the Stegosaurus stenops, by its large armored plates – they’re hard to miss! In The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, Gregory S. Paul helps us get to know this dinosaur inside and out with three detailed drawings of its skin and bone structure. Scroll down to read more about Stegosaurus below, or click here to see more Daily Dinosaurs!

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.

Stegosaurus stenops
6.5 m (21 ft) TL, 3.5 tonnes
FOSSIL REMAINS Two complete skulls and several skeletons, completely known.
ANATOMICAL CHARACTERISTICS Head shallow. Trunk short and deep, belly and hips narrow and slab sided. Leg long. Alternating armor plates very large over trunk and tail, two pairs of spines form subhorizontal pin-cushion array at end of S-curved tail tip.
AGE Late Jurassic, Late Oxfordian to Middle Kimmeridgian.
DISTRIBUTION AND FORMATION Colorado; lower Morrison.
HABITAT Short wet season, otherwise semiarid with open floodplain prairies and riverine forests.
HABITS Very well adapted for rearing, may have been able to walk slowly bipedally. Broken and healed spines and wound in Allosaurus tail show it used tail spine array as a weapon.
NOTES Because the original Stegosaurus specimen is incomplete and poorly documented, the basis of the genus and the various species is poorly understood. Main enemy Allosaurus.

PGS Daily Dinosaur – Datousaurus bashenesis

Today’s Daily Dinosaur, brought to you by Gregory S. Paul’s The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, gives us a look under the skin of Datousaurus bashenesis. Datousaurus means either “chieftain lizard” or “big-head lizard” (from the Malay datou, or “chieftain”; or the Chinese, da tou, “big head”; and Greek sauros/σαυρος “lizard”). Read more about this dinosaur below, or check out the other Daily Dinosaurs here.

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
Datousaurus bashenesis
10 m (34 ft) TL, 4.5 tonnes
FOSSIL REMAINS Partial skull and skeletons.
ANATOMICAL CHARACTERISTICS Neck moderately long. A little shoulder high.
AGE Late Jurassic, Bathonian and/or Callovian.
DISTRIBUTION AND FORMATION Central China; Xiashaximiao.
HABITAT Heavily forested.
HABITS High-level browser.
NOTES Shared its habitat with Shunosaurus and Omeisaurus.

PGS Daily Dinosaur – Struthiomimus edmontonicus

It’s easier to believe that dinosaurs are birds’ ancestors when you see the ostrich-like Struthiomimus edmontonicus. This guy is bigger than any bird you’ve seen, though; he stands 12 feet tall and weighs almost 400 pounds! Scroll down to read more about Struthiomimus, and be sure to check out the other Daily Dinosaurs.

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
Struthiomimus edmontonicus
3.8 m (12 ft) TL, 170 kg (370 lb)
FOSSIL REMAINS Several complete skulls and skeletons.
ANATOMICAL CHARACTERISTICS Skull gracile. Fingers nearly equal in length, claws long, nearly straight, and delicate. Legs very long.
AGE Late Cretaceous, Early Maastrichtian.
DISTRIBUTION AND FORMATION Alberta; lower Horseshoe Canyon.
HABITAT Well-watered, forested floodplain with coastal swamps and marshes, cool winters.
NOTES Probably includes Dromicieomimus brevitertius. May be the descendent of S. altus. Main enemy juvenile Albertosaurus sarcophagus.

PGS Daily Dinosaur – Tyrannosaurids

Today, Daily Dinosaur presents the tyrannosaurids, the most advanced and sophisticated of the large theropods. Also probably the most memorable – one well-known member of this group is the Tyrannosaurus, who made his unforgettable (and frightening!) appearance in the Jurassic Park films. Read on about tyrannosaurids below, and check out the other Daily Dinosaurs here.

Tyrannosaurus shaded skull
This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
Tyrannosaurids
Large to gigantic tyrannosauroids, limited to the later Late Cretaceous of North America and Asia.
ANATOMICAL CHARACTERISTICS Highly uniform… Eyes face partly forward, and some degree of stereo vision possible… Reduction of tail and arms in favor of enlarged and elongated leg indicates greater speed potential than in other giant theropods… Brains larger than usual in large theropods, olfactory bulbs especially large.
ONTOGENY Growth rates moderately rapid, adult size reached in about two decades, life span normally does not exceed three decades.
HABITS Long snouts of juveniles suggest they were independent hunters… Giant adults [used] their massive heads and strong teeth to dispatch victims with powerful, deep punch-like rather than slashing wounding bites aimed with forward vision, powered by very strong jaw and neck muscles, and intended to cripple prey before it could be safely consumed. Function of arms poorly understood: they appear too short and small to be useful handling prey; may have provided grip for males while mating. Head bosses presumably for head butting during intraspecific contests.
NOTES Overall the most advanced and sophisticated of large theropods. Large numbers of hunting juveniles may have swamped their habitats, suppressing the populations of smaller theropods such as dromaeosaurids and troodontids.

PGS Daily Dinosaur – Raptorex kriegstenis

Here’s another two-fer: a look at the outer appearance and the internal skeleton of the Raptorex kriegstenis, from Gregory S. Paul’s The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs. The detailed illustrations allow us to see the dinosaur’s long legs and well-developed leg muscles, perfect for pursuing and ambushing prey at high speeds. Scroll down to read more about Raptorex or click here to see more Daily Dinosaurs!

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.

Raptorex kriegstenis
2.7 m (9 ft) TL, 70 kg (150 lb)
FOSSIL REMAINS Majority of skull and skeleton.
ANATOMICAL CHARACTERISTICS Standard for derived tyrannosaurs.
AGE Early Cretaceous, probably Barremian.
DISTRIBUTION AND FORMATION Northeast China-Mongolia border; probably lower Yixian.
NOTES Exact location and formation of discovery not certain. Shows that small-armed, gracile tyrannosaurs
evolved by the late Early Cretaceous, that the emphasis of the head as the killing weapon to the exclusion of the arms in gracile forms was retained by the juveniles of later, larger species, and the presence of small arms in an agile predator shows that arm reduction is not evidence of scavenging in larger tyrannosaurs.

PGS Daily Dinosaur – Yangchuanosaurus (=Sinraptor) dongi

The Yangchuanosaurus dongi, believed to be a species of Sinraptor, is a fierce member of the Carnosaurs, the large predatory avetheropods that roamed most continents from the Middle Jurassic to the end of the Dinosaur Era. With its jagged teeth and powerful neck muscles, Yangchuanosaurus dongi was able to cripple prey with slashing bites. Scroll down to learn more about this dinosaur, and check out the other Daily Dinosaurs here.

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.

Yangchuanosaurus dongi
8 m (26 ft) TL, 1.3 tonnes
FOSSIL REMAINS Complete skulls and majority of a skeleton.
ANATOMICAL CHARACTERISTICS Snout ridges not well developed.
AGE Late Jurassic, probably Oxfordian.
DISTRIBUTION AND FORMATION Northwest China; Shishugou.
HABITAT Prey included mamenchisaur sauropods.
NOTES This species barely differs from Y. shangyuensis.

PGS Daily Dinosaur – Gigantism

Today’s Daily Dinosaur, taken from the introduction of Gregory S. Paul’s The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, showcases the skeletons of several gigantic dinosaurs and compares them to the skeletons of mammals. The human in the center is dwarfed by these gargantuan beasts! Scroll down for a brief excerpt about dinosaur gigantism from the book, and check out the other Daily Dinosaurs here!

This image is taken from The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs by Gregory S. Paul. It may not be reproduced elsewhere without permission.

Although dinosaurs evolved from small protodinosaurs, and many were small—birds included—dinosaurs are famous for their tendency to develop gigantic forms. The average mammal is the size of a dog, whereas the average dinosaur was bear-sized. But those are just averages. Predatory theropods reached as much as 10 tonnes, as big as elephants and dwarfing the largest carnivorous mammals by a factor or ten or more. Sauropods exceeded the size of the largest land mammals, mammoths, and the long-legged indricothere rhinos of 15 to 20 tonnes, by a factor of at least five.