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The difference between male and female pterosaurs

A new find reveals that pterosaurs laid soft eggs, more like a turtle than a bird, and that only male pterosaurs had elaborate crests on their heads.

Darwinopterus fossils, for example, have been found with and without head crests. Until now, it was unclear whether crested individuals were male or female.

The new fossil, which is obviously a female, lacks a head crest.

Based on this, the team thinks only Darwinopterus males sported head crests, which they may have used to communicate with other members of their species.

A crest could have been used to signal to other males “that ‘I’m bigger than you,’ or it could be used to tell females ‘Here I am, carrying this enormous crest, and I’m a better pterosaur to mate with than the chap next door who’s got a smaller crest,'” study co-author Unwin said.

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Story: National Geographic | Photo: Lü Junchang, Institute of Geology, Beijing

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