On Navajodactylus

Carlos Albuquerque
2 min readNov 28, 2023

Two depictions of Navajodactylus as a non-azhdarchid pterodactyloid, by Spooky and Corvarts respectively.

Navajodactylus boerei is an interesting Late Cretaceous pterosaur from the Campanian of the San Juan Basin (then part of Laramidia). Represented by a single ulna, it was tentatively attributed to Azhdarchidae when first discovered, and indeed specimens attached to the genus found in Canada were transfered to the azhdarchid Cryodrakon boreas. However, the original specimen has no features attributed to Azhdarchidae, and indeed Mark Witton is not convinced it belongs to this clade (Witton 2013).

This means that Navajodactylus is an example of a non-azhdarchid pterosaur from the Late Cretaceous, though further studies will need to be made. Personally, I think it is a ctenochasmatoid based on two criteria:

  • The sole remains, the wing finger phalanx, resembles Pterodaustro
  • The are Pteraichnus tracks in the Maastrichtian (Yang Li 2021). Pteraichnus tracks are distinct from the Haenaminchnus tracks attributed to azhdarchid pterosaurs and are thought to have been made by ctenochasmatoids (Witton 2013)

Coupled with how scarce pterosaur remains are, a ctenochasmatoid ghost lineage enduring to the Late Cretaceous is plausible, if needing more work.

Until then, this goober should be considered quite a remarkable animal