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Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy
Mark P. Witton

Hardcover | 2013 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691150611
304 pp. | 8 1/2 x 11 | 152 color illus. 26 halftones. 14 line illus. 17 maps.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400847655 |
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For 150 million years, the skies didn't belong to birds--they belonged to the pterosaurs. These flying reptiles, which include the pterodactyls, shared the world with the nonavian dinosaurs until their extinction 65 million years ago. Some pterosaurs, such as the giant azhdarchids, were the largest flying animals of all time, with wingspans exceeding thirty feet and standing heights comparable to modern giraffes. This richly illustrated book takes an unprecedented look at these astonishing creatures, presenting the latest findings on their anatomy, ecology, and extinction.

Pterosaurs features some 200 stunning illustrations, including original paintings by Mark Witton and photos of rarely seen fossils. After decades of mystery, paleontologists have finally begun to understand how pterosaurs are related to other reptiles, how they functioned as living animals, and, despite dwarfing all other flying animals, how they managed to become airborne. Here you can explore the fossil evidence of pterosaur behavior and ecology, learn about the skeletal and soft-tissue anatomy of pterosaurs, and consider the newest theories about their cryptic origins. This one-of-a-kind book covers the discovery history, paleobiogeography, anatomy, and behaviors of more than 130 species of pterosaur, and also discusses their demise at the end of the Mesozoic.

  • The most comprehensive book on pterosaurs ever published
  • Features some 200 illustrations, including original paintings by the author
  • Covers every known species and major group of pterosaurs
  • Describes pterosaur anatomy, ecology, behaviors, diversity, and more
  • Encourages further study with 500 references to primary pterosaur literature


"A comprehensive introduction. . . . Witton manages to make this an attractive book for the layperson and bring these flying fossils to life."--Natural History

"Witton's new tribute to pterosaurs gives these fantastic fossil creatures a much-needed makeover in two crucial ways. Not only does the book bring the science of pterosaurs up to date--at long last following-up other classics such as David Unwin's The Pterosaurs and Peter Wellenhofer's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs--but Witton is a highly-skilled and imaginative artist who ably reconstructs the bones of the animals and brings them back to life in startling poses. Witton's pterosaurs are fantastical creatures deserving their own time in the spotlight. . . . Witton's combination of style and substance makes Pterosaurs a true treasure and an absolute must for anyone curious about the extinct flyers."--Brian Switek, National

"This really is the ultimate guide to pterosaurs, providing us with a richer view of pterosaur diversity and behaviour than allowed in the two previous great volumes on the group (Wellnhofer 1991, Unwin 2005) and containing a substantial amount of review and analysis of pterosaur ecology and functional morphology."--Darren Naish, Scientific American

"A solid review of the whole of the Pterosauria that'll be genuinely useful for researchers for many years. I'm sure I'll be typing 'Witton, (2013) stated . . .' quite a lot in the future and that, if anything, should be a good measure of how I rate this as a scientific text. Now go buy a copy and read it, it really is very good."--Dave Hone, Pterosaur.Net

"[Witton] presents the uncertainties of science but never shies away from making his opinion clear. [He] respects the complexities [of scientific writing] without allowing them to clump up the text. . . . I can wholeheartedly recommend the book already."--David Mass, DRIP

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Table of Contents:

ix Preface
xi Acknowledgments
1.Leathery-Winged Harpies 1
2.Understanding the Flying Reptiles 4
3.Pterosaur Beginnings 12
4.The Pterosaur Skeleton 23
5.Soft Bits 39
6.Flying Reptiles 56
7.Down from the Skies 64
8.The Private Lives of Pterosaurs 74
9.The Diversity of Pterosaurs 90
10.Early Pterosaurs and Dimorphodontidae 95
11.Anurognathidae 104
12."Campylognathoidids" 113
13.Rhamphorhynchidae 123
14.Wukongopteridae 135
15.Istiodactylidae 143
16.Ornithocheiridae 152
17.Boreopteridae 164
18.Pteranodontia 170
19.Ctenochasmatoidea 183
20.Dsungaripteroidea 201
21.Lonchodectidae 211
22.Tapejaridae 216
23.Chaoyangopteridae 228
24.Thalassodromidae 234
25.Azhdarchidae 244
26.The Rise and Fall of the Pterosaur Empire 259
References 265
Index 283

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Fig. 25.6
Fig. 25.6
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Fig. 5.14
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    File created: 7/11/2017

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