December 3, 2017, 9:22 am
The largest collection of fossilized pterosaur eggs ever found has shown that pterosaurs, the airborne cousins of dinosaurs, could not fly right away and needed care from their parents, researchers said Thursday.
Pterosaurs were reptiles, and the first creatures—after insects—to evolve powered flight, meaning they flapped their wings to stay aloft instead of simply jumping and gliding.
First known to exist as many as 225 million years ago, they went extinct along with the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.
Until now, scientists had found some pterosaur eggs with remains inside, including three in Argentina and five in China.
But the latest report in the peer-reviewed US journal Science is based on the biggest collection to date -- 215 fossilized eggs that were found in a 10-foot (three-meter) long sandstone block in northwestern China’s Hami City, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
“Since these are extremely fragile fossils, we were very surprised to find so many in the same place,” Brazilian paleontologist Alexander Kellner told AFP.
“Because of this discovery, we can talk about the behavior of these animals for the first time.”