Samrukia

Name: Samrukia ‭(‬After the Samruk,‭ ‬a magical bird in Kazakh folklore‭)‬.‭
Phonetic: Sam-ru-ke-ah.
Named By: Darren Naish,‭ ‬Gareth Dyke,‭ ‬Andrea Cau,‭ ‬François Escuillié‭ & ‬Pascal Godefroit‭ ‬-‭ ‬2012.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Pterosauria,‭ ‬Pterodactyloidea.
Species: S.‭ ‬nessovi‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Uncertain.
Size: Unknown due to lack of remains.
Known locations: Kazakhstan‭ ‬-‭ ‬Bostobynskaya Formation.
Time period: Santonian/Campanian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Lower jaw.

       Samrukia is a genus that illustrated the dangers of naming prehistoric creatures by only partial remains.‭ ‬The original describers of Samrukia‭ (‬Naish et al.‭) ‬had a single jawbone that was first thought to belong to an ovirapotosaurian theropod dinosaur,‭ ‬but then later thought to belong to a bird.‭ ‬This raised a lot of eyebrows at the time because the jaw was twice as long as that of an ostrich,‭ ‬so on the surface it seemed that not only had the birds appeared relatively recently,‭ ‬but they had already evolved into large bipedal forms similar to some later forms such as the largest phorusrhacid birds.
       There was however a fundamental flaw to the original describers methods of identification.‭ ‬When comparing known features‭ (‬autapomorphies‭) ‬of the original jaw bone,‭ ‬the original describers looked at birds,‭ ‬but they did not look at pterosaurs,‭ ‬the group of flying reptiles that were common during the Mesozoic.‭ ‬This was pointed out by another palaeontologist named Eric Buffetaut who insisted that the holotype fossil of Samrukia belonged to a genus of pterosaur.‭ ‬After this one of the original describers Darren Naish has also agreed that the holotype fossil belongs to a pterosaur,‭ ‬not a bird.‭ ‬At the time of writing,‭ ‬Samrukia is more widely believed to have been a pterosaur,‭ ‬not a bird.
       The pterosaurs were still quite common during the late Cretaceous with the known species of birds from that time being no threat to their dominance of the skies.‭ ‬Samrukia is considered to have been a pterodactyloid pterosaur which can be loosely described as an advanced form that first began to appear at the end of the Jurassic period.‭ ‬Unfortunately not much more can be said about the genus because it is still only known by a lower jaw.‭ ‬The lack of teeth also confuse things further because a toothless beak can be used for a variety of feeding methods from fish to small animals to perhaps even fruit.‭ ‬This is actually a common problem‭ ‬in understanding pterosaurs since as the Cretaceous period went on,‭ ‬more and more toothless forms began to appear,‭ ‬and so far only a few well known genera such as Pteranodon have had their diets firmly established.

Further reading
-‭ ‬Samrukia nessovi,‭ ‬from the Late Cretaceous of Kazakhstan:‭ ‬A large pterosaur,‭ ‬not a giant bird‭ ‬-‭ ‬E.‭ ‬Buffetaut‭ ‬-‭ ‬2011.
-‭ ‬A gigantic bird from the Upper Cretaceous of Central Asia‭ ‬-‭ ‬Darren Naish,‭ ‬Gareth Dyke,‭ ‬Andrea Cau,‭ ‬François Escuillié‭ & ‬Pascal Godefroit‭ ‬-‭ ‬2012.



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