Shrimplike crustaceans are a very ancient group

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Baron Cuvier’s Pterodactylus hunted for its daily ration in the same reef-fringed waters as Rhamphorhynchus. (animatronic dinosaur)But it had a totally different apparatus for snaring prey. Extremely long, gently tapering jaws terminated in a cluster of short, straight teeth. Pterodactylus jaws looked just like the barbed tweezers used to manipulate squirmy invertebrates in today’s zoology labs. And quite possibly Pterodactylus was an airborne worm tweezer. It may well have probed the sand flats like a Jurassic sandpiper, poking its long snout into the burrows of polychaete worms, shrimplike crustaceans, and sand fleas.

 

There’s excellent evidence that one rather rare Argentine species, the bristle-toothed pterodactyl, pursued a flamingolike style of life. (dinosaur factory)Modern flamingos derive their pink coloration from the pigments stored in the tiny shrimplike creatures they filter from the shallow salty waters. The shrimp, in turn, get this pigment from tiny algae that they filter through their leg bristles. Captive flamingos fade to off white when given prepared zoo food, much to the disappointment of curators and public alike. (animatronic dinosaur costume)Fortunately, the natural pigment can be replaced by simple food coloring (the same kind used to dye Easter eggs) added to the flamingo’s diet, so most zoos can keep their birds in the pink. Shrimplike crustaceans are a very ancient group, as are the red algae that are the ultimate suppliers of the pigment.

 

Salty pools must have hosted red algae blooms in Jurassic days exactly as they do today. (life size dinosaur for sale)Then, as now, both algae and shrimp were an excellent source of food for any larger animal equipped to sieve them out of the water through an anatomical strainer. Was there, then, a pink strainer pterodactyl? Probably. The Argentine pterodactyl in question possessed a flamingo-shaped mouth with a dense row of thin, bristlelike teeth. Without question this bristle-toothed pterodactyl pumped water through its mouth with its tongue, straining out tiny food particles in the process. And since blooms of red algae were common in briny water, it’s reasonable to suppose it would often filter both algae and shrimp, and behold, a pink pterodactyl!