The bizarre-looking Tapejara pterosaur, Tupandactylus.
— Allen, about Tupandactylus

Tupandactylus (name meaning "Tupan Finger") is a genus of tapejarid pterodactyloid pterosaur that originated during the Early Cretaceous period in what is now South America.


Era & DiscoveryEdit

Tupandactylus lived in Brazil during the Early to Middle Cretaceous period, over 130-100 million years ago. It was first discovered in 1997.

Physical AttributesEdit

Tupandactylus was not a pterosaur that would go unnoticed by the naked eye. These flying reptiles hound a wide diversity in size, with some having a wingspan of 16-20 feet (5-6 m), slightly larger than an adult human. But the most noticeable characteristic was its large crest, standing 3 feet (1 m) tall. The pterosaur's body was a mixture of black and grey with its head being white, the sides of its face being blue, and its crest being bright red. Another unique feature about Tupandactylus was that it was the first known pterosaur to have developed a toothless beak.

The Tupandactylus bore differently sized/shaped crests that may have been used to signal and display for the other pterosaurs, much as modern toucans use their bright bills to signal to one another. This was certainly not used in flight, in fact, it hindered Tupandactylus greatly, giving it slower movement and to battle high winds for stability on occasion. It is assumed that it was a characteristic only found in males, being used during mating season to attract the opposite gender.

Behavior & TraitsEdit

Tupandactylus lived in large flocks of about 1,000 on the steep, coastal cliffs. Tupandactylus behaved very much like seabirds, nesting on steep cliffs near seas off the coasts of Brazil. Like seabirds, they were very social and vocal animals, communicating via a variety of screeches and honks, making them sound much like seagulls.

Males of the species had mating leks. Unlike Ornithocheirus, these pterosaurs held leks not on low-lying sandy beaches, but on high coastal cliffs - the higher the cliff top, the more dominant was the male and more likely he was to mate. The low-status males had to lek in undesirable positions, like near blow holes, instead. Tapejara also nested in the coast where there was fish nearby to feed to their young.

However, like Ornithocheirus, Tupandactylus males gathered in large groups to compete against each other for the rights to mate with females. Displays were non-aggressive, with the animals using their crests; a bigger, flashier crest meant more chance of getting a female. Individuals who had display spots away from the main group were also less likely to mate.



  • The sound effects of Tupandactylus are that of a pelican, sea lion, peacock, falcon, sea eagle, quail, and toucan.
  • Tupandactylus was one of the next pterosaurs brought back to the Aviary.
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