Ikrandraco

Name: Ikrandraco ‭(‬Ikran dragon‭)‬.
Phonetic: Ik-ran-dray-coe.
Named By: Xiaolin Wang,‭ ‬Taissa Rodrigues,‭ ‬Shunxing Jiang,‭ ‬Xin Cheng,‭ ‬Alexander W.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Kellner‭ ‬-‭ ‬2014.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Pterosauria,‭ ‬Pterodactyloidea.
Species: I. avatar‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Piscivore‭?
Size: Skull‭ ‬28‭ ‬centimetres long.‭ ‬Wingspan about‭ ‬1.5‭ ‬meters
Known locations: China‭ ‬-‭ ‬Jiufotang Formation.
Time period: Aptian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Almost complete remains of two individuals.

       It’s kind of obvious that the team behind the naming of the pterosaur Ikrandraco are fans of the‭ ‬2009‭ ‬film Avatar.‭ ‬The Ikran part of the name is a reference to the Ikran of the film,‭ ‬flying dragon-like creatures that are ridden by the Na’vi.‭ ‬The inspiration for this came from the large keeled crest that extends down from the lower jaw of Ikrandraco.‭ ‬The draco part of the name more simply means‭ ‘‬dragon‭’‬,‭ ‬a word that is fairly common in the naming of pterosaur genera‭ (‬i.e.‭ ‬Aussiedraco,‭ ‬Dawndraco,‭ ‬Volgadraco,‭ ‬Bakonydraco,‭ ‬etc‭)‬.
       As already mentioned,‭ ‬the key area of interest about Ikrandraco is the large crest that grows out from the anterior of the lower jaw.‭ ‬This crest is so large that it covers almost half the length of the lower jaw,‭ ‬and even more interestingly had a hook on the posterior portion of the crest near where the crest joined the mandibles‭ (‬lower jaw bones‭)‬.‭ ‬The describers of Ikrandraco have speculated that this feature may have been the attachment point for a pouch similar to that of a pelicans.‭ ‬In turn this led to suggestions that Ikrandraco may have been a skim feeder,‭ ‬snatching up fish that swam too close to the surface of the water and then carrying them off in its pouch.‭ ‬This feeding idea has been speculated for many pterosaurs,‭ ‬though not all palaeontologists agree to it.
       In terms of other features,‭ ‬Ikrandraco also had up to twenty-one pairs of teeth in the upper jaw,‭ ‬and fifteen to eighteen pairs in the lower jaw‭ (‬the number varies between the two specimens‭)‬.‭ ‬These teeth are not especially long but are thin and needle like.‭ ‬These teeth are better adapted for puncturing the flesh of prey and are common seen in piscivorous‭ (‬fish eating‭) ‬animals.
       Hailing from the Jiufotang Formation,‭ ‬Ikrandraco shared the skies with other pterosaur genera such as Nurhachius,‭ ‬Eoazhdarcho,‭ ‬Guidraco,‭ ‬Chaoyangopterus,‭ ‬Liaoxipterus,‭ ‬Shenzhoupterus,‭ ‬Jidapterus,‭ ‬Liaoningopterus and Sinopterus.‭ ‬Primitive birds such as‭ ‬Yanornis,‭ ‬Jeholornis,‭ ‬Sapeornis and Confuciusornis amongst others were also present.‭ ‬Not to be outdone,‭ ‬dinosaurs such as Microraptor and Psittacosaurus would have also been roaming around.

Further reading
-‭ ‬An Early Cretaceous pterosaur with an unusual mandibular crest from China and a potential novel feeding strategy.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Scientific Reports‭ ‬4‭ ‬doi:10.1038/srep06329.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Xiaolin Wang,‭ ‬Taissa Rodrigues,‭ ‬Shunxing Jiang,‭ ‬Xin Cheng,‭ ‬Alexander W.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Kellner‭ ‬-‭ ‬2014.



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