Project 860: B. Andres, J. M. Clark, X. Xu. 2014. The earliest pterodactyloid and the origin of the group. Current Biology. 24 (9):1011–1016.
Specimen: † Kryptodrakon progenitor Andres et al, 2014 (IVPP:V18184)


The pterosaurs were a diverse, long-lived group of Mesozoic flying reptiles that underwent a body plan reorganization, adaptive radiation, and replacement of earlier forms midway through their long history, resulting in the origin of the Pterodactyloidea, a highly specialized clade that includes the largest known flying organisms. The sudden appearance and large suite of morphological features of this clade had been suggested to be the result of it originating in terrestrial environments, where the pterosaur fossil record has traditionally been poor, and its many features to be adaptations to those environments. However, little evidence has been available to test this hypothesis, and it has not been supported by previous phylogenies or early pterodactyloid discoveries. Here we report the earliest pterosaur with the diagnostic elongate metacarpus of the Pterodactyloidea, Kryptodrakon progenitor, gen. et sp. nov., from the terrestrial Middle-Upper Jurassic boundary of northwest China. Phylogenetic analysis recovers this species as the basal-most pterodactyloid and reconstructs both a terrestrial origin and a predominantly terrestrial history for the Pterodactyloidea. Phylogenetic comparative methods support this reconstruction by means of a significant correlation between wing shape and environment also found in modern flying vertebrates. The elongate metacarpus is both the diagnostic apomorphy for the Pterodactyloidea and likely the key innovation responsible for the radiation of the clade.

Read the article »

Article DOI:

Project DOI: 10.7934/P860,
This project contains
  • 17 Media
  • 2 Documents
  • 1 Taxon
  • 1 Specimen
Total size of project's media files: 73.2M

Download Project SDD File
Currently Viewing:
MorphoBank Project 860

    Authors' Institutions

    • The George Washington University

    • University of South Florida

    • Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, CAS


    member name taxa specimens media media
    Brian Andres
    Project Administrator
    Maureen Admin
    Full membership

    Project has no matrices defined.

    Project views

    type number of views Individual items viewed (where applicable)
    Total project views27944
    Project overview4034
    Media views17112Media search (4932 views); M331563 (1446 views); M326512 (690 views); M326521 (658 views); M326518 (691 views); M326516 (620 views); M326515 (659 views); M326523 (647 views); M326524 (632 views); M305316 (647 views); M326517 (718 views); M326514 (682 views); M326513 (732 views); M326519 (645 views); M305317 (713 views); M326520 (647 views); M326522 (669 views); M305314 (684 views);
    Documents list2028
    Specimen list2612
    Taxon list2158

    Project downloads

    type number of downloads Individual items downloaded (where applicable)
    Total downloads from project341
    Document downloads22Andres Supplemental Dataset 1 (9 downloads); Andres Supplemental Dataset 2 (13 downloads);
    Project downloads317
    Media downloads2M326512 (2 downloads);