A Head Crest Like A Sail

September 29, 2017

 

Pterosaurs are without a doubt of the most successful groups of animals ever to inherit the earth! Gracing the prehistoric skies for over 160 million years! 

 

One of the most bizarre of the pterosaur bunch was Caiuajara Dobruskii. With a head crest like a sail and a body that overall might have weighed less than its head. Caiuajara is at the top of natures most creative creations. 

 

A flying reptile whose head was topped with a big bony crest shaped like the sail of a yacht swooped through the skies over Brazil roughly 90 million years ago.

 

Scientists announced on Wednesday the remarkable discovery of about 50 fossilized skeletons of a creature called Caiuajara dobruskii, a type of flying reptile known as a pterosaur that lived alongside the dinosaurs, at a site in southern Brazil.

 

These pterosaurs, whose wingspans measured up to nearly 8 feet (2.35 meters), inhabited a lakeside oasis in a large desert region during the Cretaceous Period, living in vibrant colonies with others of the same species of all ages, they said.

 

“This helps us to have a glimpse on the anatomical variation achieved by this species from young to old,” said Alexander Kellner, a paleontologist with Brazil’s National Museum at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, who led the study.

 

Many pterosaurs, especially the later ones, boasted elaborate and sometimes large head crests. Caiuajara’s head was topped with a big triangular crest that looked like “a bony sail,” according to Kellner. “It looks bizarre,” he said.

 

There is no indication that the crest was limited to either males or females, but it appears to have become ever larger relative to the rest of the body as the pterosaur matured.

 

“The size of the crest was small in young animals and very large in older ones,” Kellner added.

Pterosaurs were Earth’s first flying vertebrates, with birds and bats making their appearances much later. They thrived from about 220 million years ago to 66 million years ago, where they are thought to have been wiped out by the asteroid that also doomed the dinosaurs. There is a lot of talk about dinosaurs and flying reptiles dying out or close to it before the meteor hit. 

 

Caiuajara is to this day baffling scientists and continues to teach us more and more about the boundaries of flight. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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