New Jurassic flying reptile species discovered

Washington, Aug 31 (PTI) Scientists have discovered a new species of pterosaur - an extinct group of flying reptiles from the Early Jurassic - in South America. 

The cranial remains found in the Patagonia region were in an excellent state of preservation, researchers said.

They named the new species 'Allkauren koi' from the native Tehuelche word 'all' for 'brain', and 'karuen' for 'ancient'.

Pterosaurs are an extinct group of flying reptiles that lived during most of the Mesozoic Era.

They had an extraordinary adaptation to flight, including pneumatic bones to lighten its weight, and an elongated digit supporting a wing membrane.

However, pterosaur neuroanatomy is known from only a few three dimensionally preserved remains and, until now, there was no information on the intermediate forms.

The study provides new information on the origin, tempo and mode of evolution in this particular group of flying reptiles.

"Allkaruen, from the middle lower jurassic limit, shows an intermediate state in the brain evolution of pterosaurs and their adaptations to the aerial environment," said Diego Pol, from the Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio in Argentina. 

"As a result, this research makes an important contribution to the understanding of the evolution of all of pterosaurs," said Pol.

The fossil of Allkaruen koi was found in northern central Chubut Province, Patagonia Argentina and the remains included a superbly preserved and uncrushed braincase.

In order to study the neurocranial anatomy, researchers used computed tomography to observe, in three dimensions, the cranial endocast and the inner ear. 

A comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the group was performed, including these cranial data and other anatomical
features.

PTI