|Jaws (top left) compared to the skull of Zhejiangopterus (top right) and the lower jaw of Quetzalcoatlus (bottom)|
Ibrahim et a., 2010
History and discovery
Aided by local villagers, a team of paleontologists had been excavating at several locations in the Kem Kem Beds during April, and November to December 2008, uncovering remains of several different pterosaurs. The material was fragmentary, and the type locality for Alanqa is Aferdou N'Chaft, near the village of Begaa and 10 km to the north-east of Taouz.
Alanqa is known only from five fragments of the front upper and lower jaws, and possibly a neck vertebra, representing the single type species Alanqa saharica. Two of these fragments were first described, but not named, by Wellnhofer and Buffetaut in 1999, and referred to a pteranodontid. Three additional jaw specimens, including a better preserved upper jaw, were described and named by Ibrahim and colleagues in 2010. The jaws were straight and pointed, like those of the azhdarchids Quetzalcoatlus and Zhejiangopterus. Based on comparison to related species, the Alanqa saharica the individuals known from jaw specimens probably had wingspans of about 4 meters (about 13 ft). However, according to Ibrahim and colleagues, the vertebra (which probably belonged to the same species) appeared to come from a larger individual, measuring about 6 meters (about 20 ft) in wingspan.
A rostrum fragment was described in 2015 and referred to cf. Alanqa based on provenance. This fragment has two bony protuberances where the jaw occludes, coinciding with an eminence on one of the mandibles originally referred to Alanqa. These imply an unusual functional specialization in this pterosaur; possible functions include visual display, anchoring of soft tissue, and crushing hard-shelled food.
In its initial description, Alanqa was referred to the Azhdarchidae, based on the similarity of its jaws to those of Quetzalcoatlus and Zhejiangopterus. However, a later study recovered it as a thalassodromid, close to Aerotitan (previously also considered an azhdarchid).
- Ibrahim, Nizar; Unwin, David M; Martill, David M; Baidder, Lahssen; Zouhri, Samir (2010). "A New Pterosaur (Pterodactyloidea: Azhdarchidae) from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco". PLoS ONE. 5 (5): e10875. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010875. PMC 2877115. PMID 20520782.
- Wellnhofer, Peter; Buffetaut, Eric (1999). "Pterosaur remains from the Cretaceous of Morocco". Paläontologische Zeitschrift. 73: 133. doi:10.1007/BF02987987.
- Martill, David M; Ibrahim, Nizar (2015). "An unusual modification of the jaws in cf. Alanqa, a mid-Cretaceous azhdarchid pterosaur from the Kem Kem beds of Morocco". Cretaceous Research. 53: 59. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2014.11.001.
- Longrich, Nicholas R; Martill, David M; Andres, Brian (2018). "Late Maastrichtian pterosaurs from North Africa and mass extinction of Pterosauria at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary". PLOS Biology. 16 (3): e2001663. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2001663. PMID 29534059.