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25 Nov, 15 tweets, 13 min read
#Azhdarchids, a brief thread concentrating on my involvement with this amazing group of #pterosaurs. Azhdarchids have to be regarded as the most distinctive and unusual of pterosaur groups, and views on how they might have lived have varied considerably... (images by @MarkWitton)
In 2008, @MarkWitton and I examined the skeletal proportions, cranial anatomy and sedimentological setting of #azhdarchids and concluded that they were strongly adapted for quadrupedal walking in terrestrial settings....
They were likely striding predators of small and mid-sized prey, analogous to ground hornbills. We termed this the ‘terrestrial stalking’ model. See our #OA @PLOSONE paper A Reappraisal of Azhdarchid Pterosaur Functional Morphology and Paleoecology journals.plos.org/plosone/articl… cont...
In 2013, I and colleagues described a new azhdarchid – the relatively small Eurazhdarcho langendorfensis Vremir et al., 2013 – represented by cervical vertebrae and part of the wing skeleton... #azhdarchids
The specimen is represented by adult remains and is not a juvenile of the much larger Romanian azhdarchid Hatzegopteryx. The presence of both of these #azhdarchids in the same geological unit (the Sebeş Formation of the Transylvanian Basin) is significant because... #pterosaurs
... it indicates that niche partitioning might have been present in sympatric #azhdarchids (egret/heron photo by @eawilloughby). We noted the presence of locations worldwide where sympatric azhdarchids occur, these taxa differing in size and hence in ecology and habits...
Eurazhdarcho is another taxon discovered by Mátyás Vremir (who died in 2020). This paper was #OA in @PLOSONE... A New Azhdarchid Pterosaur from the Late Cretaceous of the Transylvanian Basin, Romania: Implications for Azhdarchid Diversity and Distribution journals.plos.org/plosone/articl…
The ‘terrestrial stalker’ model was challenged in 2013 by A Averianov who argued that the depositional settings of azhdarchid fossils were inconsistent with our proposal, that big theropods made our proposal problematic, and that #azhdarchids were more likely ‘scoop-netters’...
@MarkWitton and I published a response. We re-examined the environmental context in which #azhdarchids have been discovered and showed that the evidence was consistent with their being animals of continental settings. We also...
... looked at the behaviour and ecology of those theropod contemporaneous with #azhdarchids to see if they would really present the problem which Averianov argued they would, and examined his ‘scoop-netting’ idea in order to test its viability....
This paper - Azhdarchid pterosaurs: water-trawling pelican mimics or “terrestrial stalkers”? - is also #OA in Acta Pal Pol and is available here: app.pan.pl/archive/publis…
The view that #azhdarchids were essentially all alike in proportions and hence similar in lifestyle was later shown by myself and @MarkWitton to be incorrect via our analysis of cervical vertebrae belonging to the giant Late Cretaceous Romanian azhdarchid #Hatzegopteryx...
We showed that the neck of this animal was broad and thick relative to that of other giant #azhdarchids and mechanically able to resist substantial loads. This view is consistent with the absence of large predators (like theropods) from the same region... (image by @MarkWitton)
.... and suggests that #Hatzegopteryx was a predator of animals that could have weighed tens of kilos. This study is consistent with previous proposals that some other, smaller #azhdarchids (like R.2395 - shown here - described in 2015) were relatively short-necked...
This study - Neck biomechanics indicate that giant Transylvanian azhdarchid pterosaurs were short-necked arch predators - is again #OA and was published in @thePeerJ ... peerj.com/articles/2908/ #azhdarchids #pterosaurs

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More from @TetZoo

14 Nov
Time once more for a #TetZoocryptomegathread. Again, it’s on #seamonsters, and again on a supposed actual photo of a live one! I refer of course to the enigmatic Professor Sharpe ‘1908’ photo, which I first wrote about back in 2008…
The photo was brought to recent attention by cryptozoological researchers Dwight Smith and Gary Mangiacopra in a 2001 article, published in a special volume of Crypto devoted to aquatic #monsters...
It concerns a photo that’s been republished more than once since its first appearance in a Californian newspaper, and must have been seen by thousands, if not millions, of people… #cryptozoology #monsters
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10 Aug
At long last, it’s time for another #TetZoocryptomegathread, wherein I look in detail at a piece of photographic evidence said to show a MONSTER. This time, we’re looking again at a #LochNessMonster photo, specifically the HUGH GRAY PHOTO of 1933.... #LochNess #cryptozoology
This photo - famously hard to interpret - is the very first photo claimed to show the Loch Ness Monster! And I’ll mostly be calling it the Gray Nessie photo. To business…
As per usual, please remember that this isn’t called a megathread for nothin. It’s loooooong. Secondly, I am an ‘honest sceptic’. I am not biased, and I aim to report authentically what authors and reporters have said, on both sides of the proverbial fence... #cryptozoology
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6 Jun
Time for a #TetZoocryptomegathread! This time we look at one of the most famous sea monster accounts: the WWI incident in which the crew of the U-boat U-28 witnessed a gigantic, crocodile-shaped monster get blasted out of the water by an explosion. Yes, you read that right…
The U-28 incident is generally considered one of the most amazing and exciting claimed sea monster observations, combining the drama and historical realism of marine warfare with a remarkable creature account that defies belief… #cryptozoology #monsters
As usual with these megathreads, please remember that I discuss both the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of these sorts of stories. If you read something that seems wrong, silly or illogical, remember that I’ll very likely be coming back to it later on in the thread. Ok…
Read 96 tweets
24 May
You might be wondering why I haven’t produced a #TetZoocryptomegathread for a while. There's a reason for this: I’m working on a grand and vast megathread project, to be revealed in time. But for now, let’s talk about the #YETI, and about one key sighting in particular…
You probably have the impression that the #Yeti is a ‘reasonable’ cryptid: that the case for its existence is backed up by the relatively remote and wild location it’s associated with... #cryptozoology
.... by the anatomically and behaviourally ‘reasonable’ nature of the alleged sightings, and by the quality of those alleged sightings (art @thejohnconway and John Francis/Usborne/Miller 1977)… #yetis #cryptozoology
Read 68 tweets
8 Apr
By now about a million of you have shared the 'a surprising number of sea serpents were whale penises' thing. It's good, it's all good, but I have some comments... (brief thread)..
Firstly, the hypothesis (which was published by the excellent Charles Paxton @CharlesPaxton4 and colleagues in 2005) was suggested to explain one specific sea monster account (Hans Egede's 1734 sighting off Greenland)... (cont)
... with one additional encounter - the Pauline sighting of 1875, made off the coast of Brazil - also suggested as a whale wang sighting...
Read 9 tweets
4 Mar
You might have heard the news about photos claimed to show LIVE #THYLACINES. Inspired, I’m here going to discuss other alleged LIVING #THYLACINE photos. Yes, it’s another #TetZoocryptomegathread, wherein I take a detailed look at #cryptozoology-themed photographic evidence...
This time round, it’s the turn of the Kevin Cameron photos of November 1984, taken in south-west Western Australia and said to show a live #thylacine...
#Thylacines, as you surely know, are not supposed to be living on the Australian mainland in modern times and are also supposed to have gone extinct sometime around 1936…
Read 128 tweets

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