A weird spatula-billed pterosaur with ridiculous quantities of enamel has been found in a German quarry. Its distinctive facial anatomy suggests it shares feeding traits seen in at this time’s geese and whales.
Whereas Pterodaustro from Argentina might have much more enamel, this newly found species’s mouth protrusions are unusually lengthy and skinny as compared. The researchers in contrast these 480-plus enamel to the prongs of a nit comb.
“What’s much more outstanding is a number of the enamel have a hook on the top, which we have by no means seen earlier than in a pterosaur ever,” explains College of Portsmouth paleontologist David Martill.
“These small hooks would have been used to catch the tiny shrimp the pterosaur doubtless consumed – ensuring they went down its throat and weren’t squeezed between the enamel.”
So as a substitute of being chompers and tearers, these enamel had been used extra as traps. This means the meter-long-wing-spanned pterosaur should have been a filter feeder like baleen whales are at this time.
“There are not any enamel on the finish of its mouth, however there are enamel all the way in which alongside each jaws proper to the again of its smile,” says Martill.
The open spatula a part of the beak doubtless scooped water into its down-curving size. The pterosaur both passively filtered or squished out between its enamel, trapping any planktonic animals like tiny shrimp that had been swimming round in there. This means they hunted within the shallows, dabbling on the water as they waded on lengthy legs like a flamingo.
“Filter-feeding amongst pterosaurs doubtless advanced from animals that collected meals gadgets from the water floor or instantly beneath with out making use of a piercing chunk,” the group writes of their paper.
“The elongation of the rosette enamel and the discount of the interdental area in addition to the elongation of the jaws enhanced this filter impact.”
The paleontologists marveled on the close to completeness of the skeleton, remarkably preserved in superb layers of limestone for greater than 150 million years. Pterosaurs are comparatively uncommon within the fossil report due to the fragility of their thin-walled hole bones, however this specimen even included small patches of wing membrane.
“It should have been buried in sediment nearly as quickly because it had died,” explains Martill.
The group recognized the pterosaur belongs to the household Ctenochasmatidae, which lived through the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous.
Martill and colleagues named the traditional animal Balaenognathus maeuseri – the species identify in honor of one of many researchers on the group, Matthias Mäuser, who sadly handed away not too long ago.
This analysis was printed in Paläontologische Zeitschrift.