Redescription of Dawndraco kanzai Kellner, 2010 and reassignment of the type specimen to Pteranodon sternbergi Harksen, 1966




pterosaur, Cretaceous, palaeontology, taxonomy


The previous most comprehensive study on Pteranodon recognized two species of Pteranodon: P. longiceps and P. sternbergi. Complete skeletons of Pteranodon are rare, and one of the best preserved (UALVP 24238) has been identified as both P. sternbergi, and as a new genus and species, Dawndraco kanzai.  Here, the specimen is redescribed, the rostral apex is identified for the first time, new details of its provenance and preparation history are presented, and its taxonomic placement is discussed.  Whereas the shape of the rostrum appears at first glance to distinguish it from known Pteranodon, this feature is more parsimoniously interpreted in the context of sexual dimorphism; males have a longer and therefore more shallowly tapering rostrum.  Metrics from this specimen, and from published photographs and illustrations, support the conclusion that the rostrum of UALVP 24238 is neither unique, nor grounds for recognition of a taxon distinct from Pteranodon sternbergi.  Other putatively unique features of UALVP 24238 are examined and found unconvincing.


Download data is not yet available.


Abramhoff, M.D., P.J. Magalaes, and S.J. Ram. 2004. Image processing with ImageJ. Biophotonics International 11: 36-42.

Bennett, S.C. 1991. Morphology of the Late Cretaceous pterosaur Pteranodon and systematics of the Pterodactyloidea. PhD Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 400 pp.

Bennett, S.C. 1992. Sexual Dimorphism in Pteranodon and Other Pterosaurs, with comments on cranial crests. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 12: 422-434.

Bennett, S.C. 1993. The ontogeny of Pteranodon and other Pterosaurs. Paleobiology 19: 92-106.

Bennett, S.C. 1994. Taxonomy and systematics of the Late Cretaceous pterosaur Pteranodon (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea). Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, Lawrence 169: 1-70.

Bennett, S.C. 2001. The Osteology and functional morphology of the Late Cretaceous pterosaur Pteranodon. Part I. General description of Osteology. Palaeontographica Abteilung A 260: 1-112.

de Ricqlés, A.J., K. Padian, J.R. Horner, and H. Francillon-Veillot. 2000. Paleohistology of pterosaurs (Reptilia: Archosauria): anatomy, ontogeny, and biomechanical implications. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 129: 349-385.

Eaton, G.F. 1910. Osteology of Pteranodon. Memoirs of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 2: 1-38.

Everhart, M. 2014. Pteranodons: flying reptiles of the Late Cretaceous western interior sea—a photographic atlas. Accessed Dec. 6, 2016.

Harksen, J.C. 1966. Pteranodon sternbergi, a new fossil pterodactyl from the Niobrara Cretaceous Kansas. Proceedings of the South Dakota Academy of Science 45: 74-77.

Hattin, D. 1982. Stratigraphy and Depositional Environment of Smoky Hill Chalk Member, Niobrara (Upper Cretaceous) of the type area. Kansas Geological Survey Bulletin 225: 1-108.

Kellner, A.W.A. 2010. Comments on the Pteranodontidae (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea) with the description of two new species. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências 82: 1063-1084.

Manzig, P.C., A.W.A. Kellner, L.C. Weinschütz, C.E. Fragoso, C.S. Vega, G.B. Guimarães, L.C. Godoy, A. Liccardo, J.H.Z. Ricetti, and C.C. de Moura. 2014. Discovery of a rare pterosaur bone bed in a Cretaceous desert with insights on ontogeny and behavior of flying reptiles. PLOS ONE 9: e100005.

Marsh, O.C. 1876. Notice of a new sub-order of Pterosauria. American Journal of Science, Series 3, 11: 507-509.

Sternberg, G.F. and M.V. Walker. 1958. Observation of Articulated Limb Bones of a Recently Studied Pteranodon in the Niobrara Cretaceous of Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 61: 81-85.

Wang, X., T. Rodrigues, S. Jiang, X. Cheng, and A.W.A. Kellner. 2014a. An Early Cretaceous pterosaur with an unusual mandibular crest from China and a potential novel feeding strategy. Scientific Reports 4: 6327.

Wang, X., A.W.A. Kellner, S. Jiang, Q. Wang, Y. Ma, Y. Paidoula, X. Cheng, T. Rodrigues, X. Meng, J. Zhang, N. Li, and Z. Zhou. 2014b. Sexually dimorphic tridimensionally preserved pterosaurs and their eggs from China. Current Biology 24: 1323-1330.

Witton, M.P. 2013. Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 304 pp.

Witton, M. 2016. The Pteranodon complex” and dismantling our understanding of the most famous flying reptile. Accessed July 26, 2016

Young, C.C. 1973. Wuerho pterosaurs. Special Publication of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology Academia Sinica 11: 18-34.




How to Cite

Martin-Silverstone, E. (2017). Redescription of Dawndraco kanzai Kellner, 2010 and reassignment of the type specimen to Pteranodon sternbergi Harksen, 1966. Vertebrate Anatomy Morphology Palaeontology, 3.