With evolving technology, scientists are debunking old presumptions with new evidence. The latest one is that the researchers are now confident the Pterosaurs, ancient flying reptiles of the Triassic period had flamboyantly colorful feathers just like today’s birds.
Detailed examination of the fossil of a 133-million-year-old Pterosaur skull revealed that Pterosaurs had 2 kinds of feathers. The research report was published by the paleontologists in Nature on April 20.
According to the report, the creature which is believed to be the Tupandactylus imperator had a single filament-like projection with complex branching structures on its head like the present day’s birds.
The colorful making of Pterosaurs could mean that their vibrant look was to attract mates and intimidate the opponent from challenging for the mate.
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On analysis of the well-preserved fossil, the scientists identified different shapes of pigment-bearing melanosomes present in both skin and feathers.
Varying shapes of melanosomes of Pterosaurs are linked to different colors. For example, elongated melanosomes are responsible for bright coloring while spheroidal melanosomes give yellow to reddish-brown colors.
“The range of melanosome geometries found in this Tupandactylus specimen suggests that the creature may have been quite colorful,” the team said.
The vibrancy in the color of Pterosaurs’ feathers suggests that they weren’t there just to keep the creatures warm but also to seek mates through visual signaling.
However, if Pterosaurs were having true feathers they mostly weren’t meant for flying as Pterosaurs had long wide tapering wings made of fibrous membrane like modern bats.
This new evidence disproves many who were arguing about Pterosaurs not having feathers.
Researchers are excited to uncover more details of these ancient creatures that once ruled the sky millions of years ago.