Ancient Reptile With Butterfly Wings Found in Brazil (PHOTO)

Aug 14, 2014 08:20 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

A new species of flying reptile from the Cretaceous Era, Caiuajara dobruskiii, has been found in southern Brazil.

The species lived about 80 million years ago in an ancient desert oasis, according to Discovery News. It sported a strange bony crest on its head that looking like wings of a modern butterfly.

The beast had the wingspan needed to take flight even at a young age.

Hundreds of fossils from the reptile were found in a single bone bed, which provided researchers the strongest evidence yet that the reptiles were social animals, said study co-author Alexander Kellner, a paleontologist at the Museu Nacional/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, according to Discovery News.

Pterosaur fossils have been found in northern Brazil before, though no one knew of pterosaurs fossils in the southern part of the country. 

Back in the 1970s, a farmer named Dobruski and his son discovered a massive Cretaceous Period bone bed in Cruzeiro do Oeste in southern Brazil, a region not known for any fossils, Kellner said. The find was forgotten about for decades, but then rediscovered just two years ago.

The team, called the reptile Caiuajara dobruskii, after the geologic formation, contacted the Caiuá Group, where it was found, as well as the farmer who discovered the species, Kellner said.

C. dobruskii belonged to a group of winged reptiles known as pterosaurs, more commonly known as pterodactyls.

The bones were found crammed in an area of just 215 square feet. At least 47 individuals were buried at the site, and Kellner said hundreds more could have been buried there as well.

"This was a flock of pterosaurs," Kellner said to Live Science.

A study on the find was published this week in the journal PLOS ONE.

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