Flying Reptile Had Head Like a Butterfly

Researchers find odd-looking new species in Brazil
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2014 8:59 AM CDT
Scientists have found fossils of a dinosaur with the head of a butterfly in Brazil.   (Maurilio Oliveira/Museu Nacional-UFRJ)

(Newser) – A flying reptile with a head shaped like a butterfly isn't the next Godzilla nemesis. Scientists in southern Brazil have discovered fossils from a species they say was related to pterodactyls and estimated to have lived about 80 million years ago, reports LiveScience. At least 47 individual dinos were found crammed together in a "bone bed," according to an article published in PLOS One, lending further evidence that even though the Cretaceous Period pterosaurs may have been ranked low on the relative attractiveness scale, they were likely social creatures.

The new species, called Caiuajara dobruskii, sported "a strange bony crest on its head that looked like the wings of a butterfly," as well as an ample wingspan that ranged from 2.1 feet to 7.7 feet among the excavated fossils, says LiveScience. The PLOS One article notes that the reptiles appeared to be "gregarious, living in colonies, and most likely precocial," meaning mature beyond their years—the youngsters seemed to be able to take flight at an early age. Researchers add that this "exceptional occurrence, combined with the large number of three-dimensionally preserved individuals, sheds new light on the biology of those rather enigmatic volant animals." Scientist-speak for "we're pretty excited to have found these guys." (Click to read about a triceratops relative that had bony "wings" growing out of its head.)

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