Brazilian police recovered an incredibly rare pterosaur fossil

Like most extremely rare artifacts and items, a significant monetary value can be placed on rare fossils of ancient and extinct creatures. One of the best-preserved and most detailed fossils of a pterosaur ever found was recovered by police in Brazil during a raid. A pterosaur is a flying dinosaur with a large head crest.

This particular fossil is a "Tupandactylus navigans." It was discovered in a raid back in 2013, hidden among 3000 other legal fossils. The massive haul of fossils was found during an investigation into illegal fossil trading. University of São Paulo paleontologist Victor Beccari and a team of researchers investigating the fossil realized it was one of the most complete fossils of its type ever discovered.

Originally, the incredibly rare fossil had been a single two-meter limestone slab. However, the fossil thieves cut it into six pieces to make it easier to hide. Researchers used CAT scans to help reveal details of the bones, focusing on the massive crest that is the distinctive feature of the dinosaur.

The massive head crest made up nearly half of the animal's overall height. Now that the team has been able to study the fossil, a new paper on the discovery has been published. The fossil is incredibly well preserved because it was buried in the Crato Formation in conditions that suggest no oxygen, allowing the preservation of soft tissues in the fossil record.

Beccari posted a very cool video to Twitter showing an overall view of the sawn-up, massive limestone slab and then a 3D rendering of what the skeleton would look like assembled. It's rare for this type of fossil to remain so well-preserved because the creatures had very light hollow bones, which were key to enabling flight.