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Darwinopterus
Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Order Pterosauria
Family Wukongopteridae
Genus Darwinopterus
1st Species Darwinopterus modularis
2nd Species Darwinopterus linglongtaensis
3rd Species Darwinopterus robustodens
Other attributes
Time Range 160.89-160.25 mya
Location China
Name Meaning Darwin's wing
Physical Dimensions 90 centimeter wingspan
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Darwinopterus is a wukongopterid pterosaurian reptile from the Late Jurassic of China. It was named in 2010 by Lü Juncheng and his crew. It was a truly unique pterosaur, as it had both features of the long-tailed, normal-looking rhamphorhynchoids and the short-tailed, weirdly-proportioned pterodactyloids.

PhysiologyEdit

Darwinopterus was a unique pterosaur. Like most pterosaurs, it had 4 legs (2 of which served as wings), a small body, 4 fingers on each hand (one of which was elongated and supported the wing membrane), and a large head with a long, toothy beak; however, it also had a shorter tail and a longer neck than other pterosaurs at the time, as well as a large crest on its head. Most of its body (excluding its beak, crest, and wings) would have been covered in a fur-like covering called pycnofibers.

DietEdit

Darwinopterus was a predator, preying on insects and lizards. Most Darwinopterus species had small yet sharp teeth which were used for getting a hold of struggling prey; however, one species of Darwinopterus, Darwinopterus robustodens, preyed on hard-shelled beetles by snapping on their shells with its heavily-built teeth.

EcologyEdit

Darwinopterus was once thought to be a raptorial, hawk-like macropredator, swooping upon primitive birds half its size and snatching them from the air with its long, toothy beak; however, recent studies have shown that it was poorly-equipped for this lifestyle, and had reconstructed it as a robin-like insectivore, hopping around the trees and eating insects crawling on the bark (one species of Darwinopterus, the aforementioned D.robustodens, ate hard-shelled beetles, while the other Darwinopterus species preferred to eat softer-bodied prey). As well as this, male Darwinopterus had large crests on their heads, which were used to attract (crestless) females and to ward off rivals. A revolutionary discovery was made when a supposed Darwinopterus fossil egg was discovered; like the eggs of other reptiles, it was soft-shelled, which suggested that after pterosaurs laid their eggs, they buried them in the ground and left them be, and that newly-hatched flaplings would emerge from the ground, already capable of flight. A recent study has shown that the egg belonged to another genus of wukongopterid, but the discovery was still a major one nevertheless.

In popular cultureEdit

Darwinopterus was featured in the 2010 documentary Flying Monsters 3D, where it is shown as the evolutionary link between primitive and advanced pterosaurs. As well as this, it is depicted as the macropredatory, eagle-like snatcher it was once believed to be; its token prey item happens to be an (undersized) Anchiornis.

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