Friday, 8 July 2011

The pterosaur head crest investigated

There have been many discussions and proposals about the function of the pterosaur head crest.  They have ranged from display and sexual dimorphism to stability when dipping to feed in water and so on...  Brian Roberts and Rick Lind of the University of Florida and Sankar Chatterjee of Texas Tech University have recently published work that suggests another option for the crest.

They have designed an aircraft with a variable position tail fin on the nose.  This has been found to improve the efficiency of turning in flight.  Such an aerodynamic option would be advantageous to pterosaurs in positioning themselves to feed whilst in flight.  This option seems a sensible and practical explanation for the nature of the head crest as an aerodynamic feature associated with feeding.  Biologically and in an evolutionary context, this is the best explanation I have heard to date.

Brian Roberts, et al., 2011, Flight dynamics of a pterosaur-inspired aircraft utilizing a variable-placement vertical tail. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 6. 026010. 11pp. - "By morphing and repositioning a small aircraft's vertical tail to resemble the cranial crest of a pterosaur, researchers have shown that the aircraft's turn radius can be reduced by 14%. The ability to make sharper turns is especially important for small aircraft that operate in urban environments and in the presence of obstacles."


  1. Pterosaurs is one of the worlds largest bizarre flying creature ever known own in earth’s life. As we all should know, that reptiles are well known that they are cold blooded species, however scientists believe that pterosaurs are warm blooded because of there fur on there wings. The average wing span of the bizarre creature is approximately 20 ft or more. Truth is, people still think that pterosaurs are still alive. The search began in the city of Papua, New Guinea. Furthermore, the natives there think that there’s some kind of pterosaurs flying above there land. They’ve learned that the some what creature would glow at night like a firefly. Researchers said that it could just be a flying fox or a new creature that no one has ever discovered. The real question is that, is pterosaurs still existent?? Or have they just extinct with the lives of dinosaurs.

  2. My understanding is that pterosaurs are extinct. All of the evidence in science indicates this to be the case. There may be creatures that resemble pterosaurs that have evolved independently or belong to another animal group, but until one is found and studied, the conclusions that pterosaurs are extinct must remain valid. Science can only progress on the basis of evidence, otherwise you have faith or belief. Science and faith have different basic precepts and values which can be complementary as well as conflicting with their different view points. If someone finds a real living pterosaur the shift in scientific evidence will change the conclusion. That is how the scientific method works.