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Dinosaurs In Literature, History and Art:
Ancient Gold Cocle (Panama) Pterosaur? .... Page 54

The following quote basically says that pterosaur crests were sometimes larger than it appeared from pterosaur fossils and that even pterosaurs who appeared not to have a crest might have possessed one because the crests were often poorly preserved.

"The remarkable preservation of the non-ossified headcrest on Pterorhynchus reveals that such bony ridges are directly indicative of a much larger cranial structure. This non-ossified portion of the head crest was a rigid structure presumably made of keratin.

As can be seen in Pterorhynchus, the leading edge of the ossified ridge on the nasals directly correlates to the leading edge of the much larger unossified headcrest.

This demonstrates that the ossified headcrests on pterodactyls must also be indications of far larger headcrests than previously supposed. The overall size of the entire headcrest is so disproportionately larger than the ossified basal part that this suggests a substantial development of an unossified crest may be present even before any physical indications appear in the actual bone.

Therefore, even pterosaurs without ossified crests may have had a substantial crest of significant size STEPHEN A. CZERKAS and QIANG JI".

Our take on the Cocle culture gold piece is that it quite clearly represents a pterosaur with a distinctive head crest. Previously, on Page 43 of this this section, we mentioned the Tapejara pterosaurs of Brazil who had very large distinctive head crests. They might be a candidate for this representation-or it could be of a yet undiscovered pterosaur type. Finally, it could be a known pterosaur whose crest has been incompletley or inaccurately recreated by science.

Sotheby's refers to this item as "saurian". according to Biology-Online.org, the meaning of that term is: " (Science: zoology) A division of reptilia formerly established to include the lacertilia, Crocodilia, dinosauria, and other groups."

"For those with more money to spare, of course, there is Lot 63, shown above, a large coclé gold double figural pendant, Parita, Azuero Peninsula, circa A.D. 800-1500, 6 ½ inches wide.

The "densely cast ornament with two saurian-headed warriors standing side by side, each with slightly bowed muscular legs and long wire-like toes clenched around a bar, each head turned sharply and holding a ceremonial club with a trapezoidal blade in the outside hand, a shorter segmented implement grasped by the inside hands," is quite spectacular and much more interesting than most of the gold pieces that appear at auction."

It has a conservative estimate of $60,000 to $90,000.... SOTHEBY's
Click and Drag Photo to resize..

Pre-Columbian Coclé

During pre-Columbian times, the area of Panama which today includes Coclé province had a number of identifiable native cultures. Archaeologists have loosely designated these cultures by pottery style.

The poorly studied La Mula period ranged from 150 BC to AD 300. It was followed by the Tonosi period, from AD 300 to AD 550, and by the Cubita period, from AD 550 to AD 700.

A unified Native American culture appears to have flourished in this area from approximately 1200 BC until the 16th century.

Archaeologists working at intervals since the 1920s have uncovered ruins and burials which contain striking artifacts. These include worked gold and other metals, carved bone and whale ivory, textiles, jewelry with semi-precious stones and pottery.Coclé gold work was traded throughout the region, and has been found as far away as Chichen Itza in Yucatán.

The large collection of Coclé pre-historic pottery is notable for strong structural design and the use of fish, bird, animal and human figures as decoration.

Comparison of head and crest of the Cocle piece with a drawing of a Tapejara pterosaur. Click and Drag Photo to resize.

In the 1920s, at least one major archaeological site, Sitio Conte, was so badly damaged by an unprofessional excavator that much of its history is lost.

In the 1930s and 1940, Sitio Conte was extensively excavated by Harvard archaeologist Samuel K. Lothrop and University of Pennsylvania archaeologist J. Alden Mason, each of whom published their findings.

A modest museum on that site displays artifacts and site history. A second site, El Caño, was more professionally explored and provides valuable information about the Coclé culture.

A portion of Coclé's archaeological sites have been designated as the Gran Coclé Culture Area. Harvard University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, published two major works, in 1937 and 1942 respectively, on later excavations in Coclé…Wikipedia

Tapejaridae

Tapejara (from a Tupi meaning "the old being") is a genus of Brazilian pterosaur from the Cretaceous Period.

The Tapejara genus showed wide diversity in size, and each species bore a differntly sized/shaped crest that may have been used to signal and display for other Tapejara, much as toucans use their bright bills to signal to one another.

Tapejara crests usually consisted of a semicircular crest over the snout, and a bony prong whch extended back behind the head (though T. navigans lacked this prong).

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