The soft tissue preserved in the holotype (IVPP V12705) of Jeholopterus ningchengensis from the Daohugou Bed (Late Jurassic or Early Cretaceous) of China is described in detail. The plagiopatagium can be divided into the distal, comparatively more rigid actinopagatium and a proximal, more tensile tenopatagium. The actinopatagium extends from the wing finger to the articulation between the humerus and the forearm, and shows the presence of at least three layers containing actinofibrils. In each layer, the actinofibrils are parallel to subparallel, but this direction diverges from layer to layer. When distinct layers of actinofibrils are superimposed (owing to taphonomic compression), a reticular pattern is generated. The presence of layers with differently oriented actinofibrils is widespread in this pterosaur. A well-developed integumental covering formed by fibres (here named pycnofibres) that are thicker than the actinofibrils is present. Ungual sheaths that extend the length of the pedal and manual claws of this taxon are also observed. Although the understanding of the mechanical properties of the wing membrane is hampered by the lack of knowledge regarding the composition of the actinofibrils, the configuration observed in Jeholopterus might have allowed subtle changes in the membrane tension during flight, resulting in more control of flight movements and the organization of the wing membrane when the animal was at rest.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|Publication status||Published - 22 Jan 2010|
- soft tissue
- wing membrane
- Daohugou Bed