A team of researchers stumbled upon the fossils of several pterosaur eggs in China, and performed a series of analyses to reveal more about the mysterious flying reptiles. The fossils consisted of 16 embryos and 200 eggs which belonged to a pterosaur called Hamipterus. All the observations sought to discover more about the creatures, and to answer one bugging question, namely their ability to fly soon after hatching.
The first discovery of well-preserved pterosaur eggs
Pterosaurs had feeble bones, which made it hard for fossils to be preserved. However, even rarer than fossils of adult Hamipterus were those of eggs or embryos, so researchers couldn’t quite tell how the species evolved. Therefore, this discovery is massive.
The findings made so far made it impossible for researchers to tell what pterosaur species the fossils belonged to. However, a team of Chinese paleontologists stumbled upon 200 pterosaur eggs on an archaeological site. The fossils were perfectly preserved, and allowed for a more thorough analysis of their origin.
The pterosaur eggs were found buried beneath multiple layers of bones, which protected them from being destroyed. Researchers think a powerful storm must have hit a nesting site of the creatures, and moved the eggs away. However, instead of disturbing them, the eggs reached a region where they could stay protected.
The scans revealed the pterosaurs couldn’t fly soon after hatching
With the help of a series of CT scans performed on the pterosaur eggs, the paleontologists managed to find out how the creatures evolved. Unfortunately, the embryos weren’t preserved in an orderly manner. This means the bones of the microscopic creatures were mixed together as the eggs turned into fossils, so the researchers couldn’t get a picture of how the embryonic pterosaurs looked like.
Even so, the findings were still important for unravelling the growth process of these flying dinosaurs. Judging from the few bones they could see in the embryos, they could find out the stage of development of the wings in hatchlings. The main flight-controlling muscles weren’t developed enough, so they couldn’t fly immediately after hatching.