Inside view of pterosaurs’ brain yields insights to posture, behavior
With its 13-foot wing span, a flying dinosaur soars above a lake, scanning for dinner as its shadow glides across the waters surface below. Eying a fish, the aerobatic reptile, called a pterosaur, dives through the air, its shadow shrinking and darkening until – splash! The fish is in the pterosaurs beak, which resembles a cross between a pelicans bill and a crocodiles snout.
While such a scene would have occurred more than 100 million years ago, a study released this week gives a clearer picture of what went on inside the pterosaurs head. When scientists using skull fossils examined the neuroanatomy responsible for flight control and prey spotting, they found key structures to be specialized and enlarged, a discovery that could revise views of how vision, flight, and the brain itself evolved.
Sean Kearns | National Science Foundation
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