Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The "Flamingo Pterosaur"

Here is another interesting correspondence. For more examples, see the earlier post entitled Pterosaur and Modern Bird Correspondences.

"About Pterodaustro:

The modern creature that's most often compared to this South American pterosaur is the flamingo, which it seems to have resembled. Although we may never know for sure, it's even possible that Pterodaustro had a similar pink hue, based on its likely diet.

And what diet was that? Well, based on its thousand or so distinctive, bristlelike teeth, paleontologists theorize that 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, that's where Pterodaustro's presumably pink color would have come from."

"Pterodaustro probably waded in shallow water like flamingos, straining food with its tooth comb, a method called "filter feeding".[4] Once it caught its food, Pterodaustro probably mashed it with the small, globular teeth present in its upper jaw.
According to Robert Bakker, like with flamingos, this pterosaur's diet may have resulted in a pink hue. Thus, it is often dubbed the "flamingo pterosaur".[5]"

"The flamingo's characteristic pink colouring is caused by the beta carotene in their diet.


  1. Here is some more interesting info concerning Pterodaustro and flamingos:

    "We show that, upon hatching, Pterodaustro juveniles grew rapidly for approximately 2 years until they reached approximately 53% of their mature body size, whereupon they attained sexual maturity. Thereafter, growth continued for at least another 3–4 years at comparatively slower rates until larger adult body sizes were attained."

    In this they are similar to modern flamingos:

    "Flamingos reach reproductive age after three years. Studies of populations in the wild found that birds six years or older had a higher rate of breeding success than younger birds. Sexual maturity is evidenced by the gradual molt of the chick from light pink plumage at one year, to the deep pink coloration characteristic of a sexually mature adult at two to three years.


    "Flamingos reach sexual maturity several years [2 - 3 years] after hatching and usually begin to breed at about six years of age."

  2. You seem to have missed this important point:

    "We found that the growth
    patterns of Pterodaustro differs significantly from
    modern birds: firstly, Pterodaustro grew in periodic
    spurts and took several years to reach skeletal maturity
    and secondly, unlike modern birds that attain sexual
    maturity after reaching full adult size (Erickson et al.
    2007), Pterodaustro appears to have attained sexual
    maturity and continued growing for a few more years
    before attaining full skeletal size (figure 2). Thus, the
    timing of sexual maturity in Pterodaustro is more similar
    to extant squamata and crocodilians (Chabreck &
    Joanen 1979; Wilkinson & Rhodes 1997) and a variety
    of non-avian dinosaurs (Chinsamy-Turan 2005)."

    This is nothing like Flamingo growth patterns

  3. I studied this carefully at the time I wrote this and have again looked at it.
    I do not see any difference in the growth patterns (sexual growth and skeletal growth) between Pterodaustro and flamingos.
    Can you spell out:
    what the timing of sexual maturity is for both Pterodaustro and for flamingos?
    what the timing of skeletal maturity is for both Pterodaustro and for flamingos?
    And give reference links for your info please. That would be great.

  4. Also see the post immediately after this one entitled "Sexual Maturation" (May 19).