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Paleontologists confirm ancient remains as new flying reptile

The species featured a large bony crest on the apex of its head that researchers have likened to the wings of a butterfly.
By Brooks Hays   |   Aug. 13, 2014 at 6:02 PM
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The fossil remains of yet another strange flying reptile has been discovered in Brazil, and researchers have confirmed that the bones are evidence of a previously undiscovered species -- Caiuajara dobruskii.

Archaeologists actually found 47 individual specimens of the new species, and the fact that they were all excised from the same area in southern Brazil suggests they were very social creatures. It also suggests the excavation site used to host a body of water where many specimens gathered.

The bone fragments used to study and identify this creature were all jam packed into an area of dirt just 215 square feet in area.

Caiuajara dobruskii are a type of pterosaurs, winged reptiles, that lived 80 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Era, in the deserts of ancient Brazil. Scientists say they ate fruit and could begin flying at an early age.

The fossils were unearthed and studied by a team of Brazilian paleontologists. They say the reptiles' skulls show little variation through maturity, but that their wingspans grew from around 2 feet in length as juveniles to as wide as seven feet as adults. And even though their skull didn't grow much, their heads changed drastically as they matured. The species featured a large bony crest on the apex of its head that researchers have likened to the wings of a butterfly.

The discovery of Caiuajara dobruskii was recently detailed in the journal PLOS ONE.

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