Experts at the University of Portsmouth have identified a new species of pterosaurs that had distinctive teeth resembling a frequent hair comb.
The findings are described in the journal Paläontologische Zeitschrift (PalZ).
The fossil itself was found by chance in a German limestone quarry while excavating a block of crocodile bones. The well-preserved specimen (scientists believe it was due to the dinosaur's ingress into the sediment immediately after death) allowed for a thorough examination of the flying dinosaur's anatomy. The pterosaur was named Balaenognathus maeuseri, and it belongs to the family Ctenochasmatidae.
Curved long jaws of this ancient animal, expanding on the end, contained a number of 400 thin hooked teeth, arranged mirror-like. Such a structure had never been seen before in pterosaurs. It is assumed that the dinosaur consumed tiny shrimp, and its unique teeth allowed it to clamp victims between them. The feeding mechanism resembled that used by ducks and flamingos today: by scooping water into its beak, it filtered it through its teeth.