Temporal range: Early Cretaceous, 125–120 Ma Possible Middle Jurassic record
|Life restoration of Istiodactylus latidens feeding on a stegosaur corpse.|
Howse, Milner & Martill, 2001
Remains of taxa that can be confidently assigned to Istiodactylidae have been found in the UK and China, in rocks dating from the Early Cretaceous period (Barremian to Aptian stage). Arbour and Currie (2011) described Canadian Gwawinapterus beardi as a member of Istiodactylidae living in the late Cretaceous (upper Campanian stage); however, Witton (2012) suggested the tooth replacement pattern in this animal does not match that of pterosaurs, suggesting that the species might be non-pterosaurian. Additional research suggested that the species was in fact a fish. The earliest known species might be Archaeoistiodactylus linglongtaensis, from the Middle Jurassic of China; however, it also has been suggested that the holotype specimen of this species might actually be a poorly preserved specimen of Darwinopterus. Hongshanopterus, a supposed istiodactylid from China, has been reclassified as a non-istiodactylid member of Ornithocheiroidea of uncertain phylogenetic placement by Witton (2012).
Istiodactylids were medium sized pterosaurs with flat, rounded jaws similar to that of a duck. They had small teeth lining their jaws, however.
Unlike most ornithocheiroids, istiodactylids bear physiologies suited to a terrestrial life and many of their fossils have been found in freshwater-deposits. Istiodactylids are considered to be pterosaurian equivalents to vultures: acting as the clean-up crew in their native locations. Whether or not istiodactylids could swim like most water-loving pterosaurs remains a mystery.
- Mark P. Witton (2012). "New Insights into the Skull of Istiodactylus latidens (Ornithocheiroidea, Pterodactyloidea)". PLoS ONE. 7 (3): e33170. PMC . PMID 22470442. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033170.
- Arbour V.M., Currie P.J. (2011). "An istiodactylid pterosaur from the Upper Cretaceous Nanaimo Group, Hornby Island, British Columbia, Canada". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 48 (1): 63–69. doi:10.1139/E10-083.
- Vullo R., Buffetaut E., Everhart M.J. (2012). "Reappraisal of Gwawinapterus beardi from the Late Cretaceous of Canada: a saurodontid fish, not a pterosaur". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 32 (5): 1198–1201. doi:10.1080/02724634.2012.681078.
- Lü J., Fucha X. (2010). "A new pterosaur (Pterosauria) from Middle Jurassic Tiaojishan Formation of western Liaoning, China". Global Geology. Z1: 113–118.
- David M. Martill & Steve Etches (2012). "A new monofenestratan pterosaur from the Kimmeridge Clay Formation (Upper Jurassic, Kimmeridgian) of Dorset, England". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. in press. doi:10.4202/app.2011.0071.
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