- The Paleontological Society
Remains of a pteranodontid pterosaur are recorded in the basal Austin Group of North Texas. The specimen described here comprises a partial left wing and strongly resembles Pteranodon although diagnostic features of that genus are lacking. With an estimated early Coniacian age, this specimen represents the earliest occurrence of the Pteranodontidae in North America and the second earliest occurrence worldwide, predated only by Ornithostoma from the Cambridge Greensand of England. Pterosaur material recovered from the Eagle Ford and Austin groups of Texas records an early Late Cretaceous change in the composition of North American pterosaur communities between the late Cenomanian and the early Coniacian. This faunal transition appears to be primarily a decrease in morphological disparity rather than a significant reduction in taxonomic diversity. However, the lack of Early Cretaceous Lagerstätten in North America may produce underestimates of true pterosaur richness during this interval, thereby obscuring a subsequent drop in diversity.