Temporal range: Early Cretaceous
Dsungaripterus weii had a wing span of 3 to 3.5 metres (9.8-11.5 ft). Like most dsungaripteroids it had a rather robust skeleton with thick walls and stouty bodily proportions, suggesting a mostly terrestrial lifestyle. The flight style of these animals is unclear, but it was probably punctuated by abrupt landings and extensive flapping.
Its skull, forty to fifty centimetres long, bore a low bone crest that ran down from the base of the skull to halfway to the beak. Dsungaripterus's head and neck were together almost a meter long. Its most notable feature are its long, narrow, upcurved jaws with a pointed tip. It had no teeth in the front part of its jaws, which were probably used to remove prey from cracks in rocks or/and the sandy, muddy inland environments it inhabited. It had knobbly flat teeth more to the back of the jaw that were well suited for crushing the armor of shellfish or other hard objects.
It had a palate similar to that of azhdarchoid pterosaurs.
History of discovery
Dsungaripterus was described in 1964 named by Yang Zhongjian. The genus name combines a reference to the Junggar Basin with a Latinized Greek pteron, "wing". The type species is Dsungaripterus weii, the specific name honouring paleontologist C.M. Wei of the Palaeontological Division, Institute of Science, Bureau of Petroleum of Xinjiang. The holotype is IVPP V-2776, a partial skull and skeleton. From 1973 more material has been found including almost complete skulls.
In 1980 Peter Galton renamed Pterodactylus brancai (Reck 1931), a form from a late Jurassic African formation, into Dsungaripterus brancai, but the identification is now commonly rejected. In 1982 Natasha Bakhurina named a new species, Dsungaripterus parvus, based on a smaller skeleton from Mongolia. Later this was renamed into "Phobetor", a preoccupied name, and in 2009 concluded to be identical to Noripterus. In 2002 a Dsungaripterus wing finger phalanx was reported from Korea.
Dsungaripterus was classified by Yang as a member of the Dsungaripteridae. Below is a cladogram showing the phylogenetic placement of Dsungaripterus within Neoazhdarchia from Andres and Myers (2013).
- Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 105. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.
- Witton, Mark (2013). Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy. Princeton University Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0691150611.
- Andres, B.; Myers, T. S. (2013). "Lone Star Pterosaurs". Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: 1. doi:10.1017/S1755691013000303.