Pterosaurs aren’t dinosaurs—they’re flying reptiles. However, they do have some traits in common with dinosaurs, including some incredible head gear. Just like dinosaurs like Cryolophosaurus (aka “Elvisaurus,” for its ducktail-shaped crest) and Triceratops, there are some pterosaurs with impressive structures on their skulls. One of the strangest examples is Nyctosaurus.
Nyctosaurus lived in what’s now the western United States about 85 million years ago, when the area was covered by a shallow sea. Some adult specimens had crests like the one in this drawing—the crests could be nearly two feet long! It’s not clear exactly what this showy crest was used for, but often when an animal has a weird feature, it’s either meant to frighten away rivals or attract mates.
Illustration by Dmitry Bogdanov and FunkMonk