Jun. 25th, 2014

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Tupandactylus imperator is one of Brazil's many fantastically-crested pterosaurs from the Cretaceous period. The skull itself only has a prong of bone reaching above the bill and another that juts out behind the eye, but skin impressions reveal that skin and keratin was stretched between these two prongs to form the large triangular crest. It had a keratinous beak somewhat like a bird's, and was covered in small feather-like fibers, as many pterosaurs were now known to be.

Skulls of this and other tapejarid pterosaurs reveal that they had large visual centers of the brain, even moreso than other pterosaurs, suggesting that they may have relied almost exclusively on eyesight to hunt, rather than scent or hearing. What exactly they ate, however, is still unknown.

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Lauren Helton

September 2014

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