Often known as the ugliest pterosaur ever thanks to its big head and upward-curving jaws, Dsungaripterus was a medium-sized animal. It hails from the Early Cretaceous of China’s Junggar Basin.
The only species in the genus, Dsungaripterus weii, was named by renowned paleontologist C.C. Young in 1964 on the basis of a well-preserved partial skull and skeleton. More complete remains were discovered from 1973 onward.
The wings of the animal had a 3.5-meter span, medium-sized for a Cretaceous pterosaur. It had a crest on its head, a possibly colorful skin extension supported by bone as shown in fossil skulls. It is the original member of the Dsungaripteridae, a family of strange pterosaurs with similar curved jaws and strong crushing teeth at the back of the mouth.
They are cousins of the azhdarchids and would have been similar to most their relatives. They were certainly quite adept walkers while they fed mostly from waterways, dipping for freshwater mussels, snails and other mollusks.
Dsungaripterus was, for the most part, a passive hunter. However its teeth might have been useful on small vertebrates as well, just nothing too large for the pterosaur to handle. Most of these pterosaurs had small torsos, thus limiting the size of the large prey that they could handle. Still, the sight of a group of these weird and beautifully adapted pterosaurs dipping into a mussel bank might have been an incredible sight to behold.