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Pterodaustro (Toledo Zoo)


Pterodaustro (Greek for "southern wing"); pronounced TEH-roe-DAW-stroh


Lakes and seashores of South America

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (140-130 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

Wingspan of 4 feet and 5-10 pounds


Plankton and small crustaceans

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long, curved beak with numerous bristlelike teeth


About Pterodaustro:

The modern bird that's most often compared to the South American Pterodaustro is the flamingo, which this pterosaur closely resembled in appearance, if not in every aspect of its anatomy. Based on its thousand or so distinctive, bristlelike teeth, paleontologists believe that the early Cretaceous Pterodaustro dipped its curved beak into the water to filter out plankton, small crustaceans, and other tiny aquatic creatures. Since shrimp and plankton are predominantly pink, some of these scientists also speculate that Pterodaustro may have had a distinctly pinkish hue, another trait it would have shared with modern flamingos. (By the way, in case you were wondering, pterosaurs weren't directly ancestral to prehistoric birds, which descended instead from small, feathered dinosaurs.)

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