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361

Tupuxuara leonardii

OLogy Series
extinct animal
card
361

Tupuxuara leonardii

OLogy Series
extinct animal

The most dazzling feature on many pterosaurs was a spectacular head crest. Tupuxuara leonardii had one of the most impressive crests ever found. Its huge, fan-shaped crest swept back from its snout. Fossils of this large pterosaur formed in a lagoon in what is now Brazil. Tupuxuara lived near water and probably used its long, toothless beak to grab fish.

Why did pterosaurs like Tupuxuara have crests? Scientists have concluded that pterosaurs used crests to:

tell each other apart

attract mates

they don’t know for sure!

Are you right?

Correct!

Most scientists have many theories about why crests evolved. Besides identification and mating, they may have had other functions, like cooling their bodies and steering in flight.

Tupuxuara was just one of several crested pterosaur species that lived at the same time and place in Brazil. Their crests were:

identical

similar

different

Are you right?

Correct!

The crests of these species were different sizes, shapes, and even colors. This may be evidence that distinctive crests helped pterosaurs tell each other apart.

Mark Norell, paleontologist

It's hard for us to know what the elaborate crest were used for. We just don't have enough fossils yet. It would take thousands of fossils of these animals in different growth stages to be able to understand that question.

Tupuxuara had no teeth but was still a good hunter.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Tupuxuara did not have teeth. But its sharp beak was a good weapon for capturing its prey, probably fish.

The large hole in the Tupuxuara skull was an eye socket.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

The eye sockets were very small and sat right behind the large opening in the skull. These open spaces helped keep the skull lighter for its size.

Antibiotics are effective treatments for viruses like the flu.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Antibiotics kill bacteria, so they don't fight infections caused by viruses like the flu and the common cold. In fact, overusing antibiotics can cause bacteria to become resistant.

The exact same virus can infect a bird, a pig, and a human.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

People can't be infected by a bird virus. But pigs can be infected with both bird and human viruses. So if a bird flu virus spreads to pigs, it can mutate into a kind that can then spread to humans.

Pronunciation: too-pu-SHWA-ra
lay-o-NAR-dee-eye
Lived: around 110 million years ago
Fossil Found: in northeastern Brazil
Wingspan: 15 feet (4.5 meters)
Diet: probably fish
Cool Fact: Pterosaur crests, like some bird crests, may have been brightly colored. This may have helped members of the same species recognize each other.

Image credits: © AMNH 2014; Mark Norell: AMNH.