Tapejara (pterosaur)

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Temporal range: Early Cretaceous, 108 Ma
Reconstructed skeleton
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Pterosauria
Suborder: Pterodactyloidea
Family: Tapejaridae
Subfamily: Tapejarinae
Genus: Tapejara
Kellner, 1989
Species: † T. wellnhoferi
Binomial name
Tapejara wellnhoferi
Kellner, 1989

Tapejara (from a Tupi word meaning "the old being") is a genus of Brazilian pterosaur from the Cretaceous Period (Santana Formation, dating to about 108 Ma ago). Tapejara crests consisted of a semicircular crest over the snout, and a bony prong which extended back behind the head.

Species and classification[edit]

Reconstructed profiles of (from top to bottom) Tapejara wellnhoferi, Tupandactylus navigans, and Tupandactylus imperator

The type species and only one currently recognized as valid by most researchers, T. wellnhoferi, is the smallest species to have been assigned to Tapejara and does not preserve evidence of soft-tissue crest extensions. The specific name honours German paleontologist Peter Wellnhofer. A second species, originally named Tapejara imperator ("emperor"), is much larger and possessed a crest made up of distinctively long prongs, projecting from the rounded snout crest and the back of the skull, which supported a large, possibly rounded sail-like crest of keratin. A third species, Tapejara navigans ("sailing"), was mid-sized and sported a similar crest to T. imperator, though narrower and more dome-shaped, that lacked the backwards-pointing bony support prong.

Several studies in 2007 showed that T. imperator and T. navigans are too different from T. wellnhoferi and therefore require their own genus names. The species T. imperator was given its own genus, Tupandactylus, by Kellner and Campos.[1] Unwin and Martill found that T. imperator and T. navigans belong in the same genus, and named them Ingridia imperator and I. navigans, respectively. The genus name honoured Wellnhofer's late wife Ingrid.[2] Because Tupandactylus was named first, it retains priority over the name Ingridia. To complicate matters, both the name Tupandactylus and Ingridia used the former Tapejara imperator as their type species.[3] The scientists who described Tupandactylus did not name a Tupandactylus navigans (but instead suggested it was synonymous to Tupandactylus imperator), and Tapejara navigans was not formally reclassified as a distinct species of Tupandactylus until 2011.[4]

Restored head

The cladogram below follows the 2011 analysis of Felipe Pinheiro and colleagues.[4]




Thalassodromeus sethi

Tupuxuara deliradamus

Tupuxuara leonardii


Jidapterus edentus

Shenzhoupterus chaoyangensis

Chaoyangopterus zhangi


Sinopterus jii

Sinopterus dongi

Huaxiapterus benxiensis

Huaxiapterus corollatus

Tapejara wellnhoferi

Tupandactylus navigans

Tupandactylus imperator


Comparisons between the scleral rings of Tapejara and modern birds and reptiles suggest that it may have been cathemeral, active throughout the day at short intervals.[5]


  1. ^ Kellner, A.W.A.; Campos, D.A. (2007). "Short note on the ingroup relationships of the Tapejaridae (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea". Boletim do Museu Nacional 75: 1–14. 
  2. ^ Unwin, D. M. and Martill, D. M. (2007). "Pterosaurs of the Crato Formation." In Martill, D. M., Bechly, G. and Loveridge, R. F. (eds), The Crato Fossil Beds of Brazil: Window into an Ancient World. Cambridge University Press (Cambridge), pp. 475-524.
  3. ^ Naish, D. (2008). "Crato Formation fossils and the new tapejarids." Weblog entry. Tetrapod Zoology. 18 January 2008. Accessed 31 January 2008 (http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2008/01/crato_formation_tapejarids.php).
  4. ^ a b Pinheiro, F.L., Fortier, D.C., Schultz, C.L., De Andrade, J.A.F.G. and Bantim, R.A.M. (in press). "New information on Tupandactylus imperator, with comments on the relationships of Tapejaridae (Pterosauria)." Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, in press, available online 03 Jan 2011. doi:10.4202/app.2010.0057
  5. ^ Schmitz, L.; Motani, R. (2011). "Nocturnality in Dinosaurs Inferred from Scleral Ring and Orbit Morphology". Science 332 (6030): 705–8. doi:10.1126/science.1200043. PMID 21493820.