Friday, July 28, 2006
UK scientists say they have solved the mystery of why prehistoric flying reptiles grew crests on their heads.
A rare skull specimen found in Brazil shows the crest appeared at puberty, suggesting it was used to attract attention from the opposite sex.
University of Portsmouth experts say pterosaurs, which ruled the air during the time of the dinosaurs, flaunted their headgear in sexual displays.
The findings are published in the journal Palaeontology (Abstract).
Palaeobiologist Dr Darren Naish said the crest was a signal of sexual maturity; used like a peacock's tail to attract a mate.
"It would have been like a gigantic cockerel's comb, a brightly-coloured striking structure used in display," he told the BBC News website.