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The holotype specimen of Laopteryx prisca (YPM 1800), described by Marsh in 1881 as the cranium of a North American Jurassic bird, has been cited several times by subsequent authors as of unlikely avian identity or a possible pterosaur. Careful re-examination and illustration of the infrequently examined type specimen, and a review of the characters noted by Marsh, refute the avian identification and confirm later suspicions. A single tooth originally associated with the cranium, long thought to be lost, is also re-studied and illustrated, and is judged to be unrelated to Laopteryx.

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