A new species of a pterosaur was found in Patagonia, Argentina, and received the name Allkaruen koi. The flying reptile is believed to have lived in the early Jurassic, between 199.6 and 175.6 million years ago.
The Flying Pterosaur
The lightweight bones of the dinosaur showed that the pterosaur was adapted to flight. Other studies have proved that the ancient creatures had air sacs in extension to their lungs, which kept down the density of the body. The Allkaruen koi also had a longer digit that helped support the wing membrane.
The researchers do not have a lot of information on the flying pterosaurs because they discovered very few fossils of the animals. In this case, the Allkaruen koi was found with an intact braincase, which may help the scientists recover extra data.
The skull was only 2.75 inches long, making Allkaruen koi quite a small species. The researchers believe that the largest species would grow as large as a giraffe, and they used their limbs to make leapfrogs while flying.
Apart from the skull, the archaeologists found the jaws and a vertebra. The Allkaruen koi would be similar to an egret in size, but the researchers would need more data to draw any conclusions.
Secrets of the Pterosaur Brain
So far, the scientists managed to use computer tomography scans to recreate the interior of the skull and also to build models of an inner ear. Based on their findings, the researchers found the connections between the Allkaruen koi and other members of the pterosaur family.
However, scarce the fossils are, the scientists are hoping to find a lot of interesting details from investigating the skull. For example, they concluded that some features of the Pterodactylus evolved ever since the early Jurassic period.
The skull of the Allkaruen koi shows that the pterosaur was placed in the middle Jurassic, and its brain had an intermediate state when compared with other members of the same family. The skull also contains adaptations to the aerial environment.
The fossils had been found in the Chubut Province from Patagonia, in the Cañadón Asfalto Formation. Over time, scientists discovered in the same place vertebrate fauna and plant remains from the Middle to Late Jurassic. Among the vertebrates, there were amphibians, turtles, dinosaurs, and mammals.
The pterosaur was the first winged vertebrate to exist on Earth. They appeared in Late Triassic and then developed high morphologic and taxonomic diversity in Mesozoic. Until now, almost 150 species had been discovered.
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