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