The Thalassodromeus was one of the ancient inhabitants of the earth that dates about 100 million years back to the Albian stage of the Early Cretaceous epoch.
In 1983, the first specimen of the genus comprising a skull was excavated from the Araripe Basin in Brazil. The fragments of the skull were gathered and reconstructed a long time before the holotype specimen DGM 1476-R was identified and categorized under the Thalassodromeus genus by paleontologists Diogenes de Almeida Campos and Alexander Kellner in 2002.
The fossil remains were initially housed at the Earth Sciences Museum in Brazil. In 2005, André Jacques Veldmeijer and his team considered the frontal section of a recovered mandible as a part of the skull of T. sethi despite some differences. Since the mandible was collected from Santana Formation itself and the differences proved to be quite insignificant, the researchers were reluctant on forming a whole new species. The crest of this unique Pterosaur was the most defining part that set the species apart. Moreover, the crest played an important function in thermoregulation as well as sexual displays. Did you know that the crest has been likened to the bill of the modern-day toucan?
The name of the genus is not too difficult to pronounce. You just simply need to break it up into 'Thah-lass-oh-dro-me-us'. The meaning of the generic name translates to 'sea runner' while the specific name is a reference to the Egyptian god Seth.
The Thalassodromeus was a Pterosaur that has been categorized under the Tapejaridae family.
Fossils of the holotype specimen discovered from the Santana Formation date back 112-109 million years ago belonging from the Albian period of the Early Cretaceous epoch.
The population of this Pterosaur species was wiped out entirely about 112-109 million years ago.
Fossil remains of T. sethi recovered from Santana Formation in Brazil prove that these Pterosaurs inhabited South America.
This Pterosaur species was accustomed to marine habitats. However, T. sethi had the adaptations that aided flight.
It can be assumed that T. sethi portrayed a friendly disposition towards their mating partners or even family members. However, there's no evidence to throw light on the social habits of the species. So, it can't be mentioned for sure if they preferred a life of solitude or in the company of other members.
Due to the dearth of adequate research data, the life expectancy of these Early Cretaceous Pterosaurs couldn't be ascertained.
These Pterosaurs engaged in oviparous reproduction implying that the females gave birth by laying eggs after copulation. As per studies, the crest developed with the attainment of sexual maturity and it was used for sexual displays. Other significant details about the breeding season, incubation and gestation periods, courtship rituals, clutch size, and parental care lack scientific description.
These Pterosaurs exhibited sexual dimorphism but a specific description of the differences between the two sexes couldn't be confirmed. The crest stretched from the crown of the upper jaw to the rear end of the skull. The crest exhibited a pronounced V-shaped protrusion at its back. Both the upper as well as the lower edges of the jaws were sharp and the nasoantorbital fenestra (an opening where the bony nostril and antorbital fenestra merge) on the skull was characteristically large. Although absent from the fossils, Thalassodromeus sethi possessed wings with a wingspan of around 13.8-14.8 ft (4.2-4.5 m). Did you know that the crest of the species was almost three times that of the size of its remaining skull?
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The classification of the genus is based on the fossil remains of the holotype specimen comprising the skull. The crest and toothless jaws were two important features that furthered research about the Pterosaur. The crest was composed of frontal bones, the premaxillae, sections of the supraoccipital bone, and parietal bones. However, since the entire skeletal framework couldn't be reconstructed, it's difficult to give out the exact number of bones that constituted this unique Pterosaur.
Generally, Pterosaurs interacted with each other via innumerable calls and sounds. They also communicated through bodily displays for exhibiting aggression or enticing their counterparts. For instance, bellowing sounds were common with dinosaurs.
T. sethi had an approximate length of 4.6 ft (1.4 m) while its wingspan has been estimated around 13.8-14.8 ft (4.2-4.5 m). It was almost similar to the size of the Dimorphodon that measured about 3.3-8 ft (1-2.3 m) long.
Features like wings, hollow bones, keeled breastbone, a large brain, and stiff torso show that Pterosaurs were capable of flight and T. sethi was one of them. It was actively mobile both on land and air but its accurate movement speed couldn't be determined from the fossil extracts.
The average weight of T. sethi couldn't be determined. So, it can't be said if they were as bulky as the Pterodactyl that weighed approximately 88 lb (40 kg).
Among dinosaurs, the males and females have no distinct sex-based attributions so these Pterosaurs can be called male and female Thalassodromeus sethi respectively.
A baby Thalassodromeus can be regarded as young. However, you can also call it a hatchling because these Pterosaur babies are born from eggs just like the baby birds you see today.
It is believed that the Pterosaur indulged in a carnivorous diet. However, it is originally believed that it projected some piscivorous tendencies due to its jaw structure. Kellner and Campos described the species as a skim feeder owing to the spear-shaped structure of its jaws. However, this theory was widely criticized and currently, it is believed that these predators had little to do with skim-feeding and they might have mostly hunted down small terrestrial mammals. Its blade-like jaws indicate that the prey was most probably struck and then killed before being devoured or it might have used its jaws for overpowering its prey by biting into its flesh. The exact function of the jaws in the feeding habits of the Pterosaur needs more research.
It can be deduced that T. sethi engaged in aggression to some extent, particularly while hunting down its prey but there's no concrete proof to authenticate these propositions.
Did you know that Tupuxuara was the closest relative of this Pterosaur? Both discovered from the same formation in Brazil qualify as Thalassodromids but there are noticeable differences between the two. Tupuxuara's crest possessed a unique diamond-like shape. On the other hand, the classification of T. sethi was based on its skull. The skull had a comparatively heavier build than Tupuxuara. Also, it had a more compressed and slender orbit than Tupuxuara. Paleontologists have differing views regarding their oldness. While some researchers contend that the Tupuxuara was older, others consider just the contrary.
Based on fossil findings, T. sethi is believed to possess one of the largest skulls among all Pterosaurs. It measured around 4.7 ft (1.42 m) in length which implies that the species exhibited one of the largest known crests among all vertebrates. Research hints at the function of the crest in displays, thermoregulation, and several other purposes. Another dinosaur with one of the largest known cranial crests was the Parasaurolophus. Its skull measured around 5.2 ft (1.6 m) including its crest.
The name of the genus has its roots in the Greek terms 'thálassa' implying 'sea' and 'dromeús' translating to 'runner'. The name 'sea runner' served as a reference to the skim-feeding technique that was originally associated with the feeding habits of T. sethi. The specific name draws from Seth, the Egyptian god of chaos and storm because the crest of the species resembled the crown of god Seth depicted in artistic representations. However, some researchers like Hanneke J. M. Meijer, André Jacques Veldmeijer, and Marco Signore hold that the crest was akin to god Amon's crown rather than that of Seth.