Researchers discover 300 fossilised pterosaur eggs

Dec 3, 2017 08:25 IST
Researchers discover 300 fossilised pterosaur eggs

A team of Paleontologists have announced the discovery of hundreds of fossilised eggs laid by Pterosaurs, a group of extinct winged dinosaurs.

The discovery, world’s first, has unveiled as many as 300 fossilised eggs and skeletons of pterosaurs. Many among them have been found to be in a quite well-preserved condition. Some of the eggs even contain the most detailed pterosaur embryos ever found.

The discovery was presented on 30 November 2017 by Brazilian and Chinese dinosaur experts at a press conference, after they jointly analysed the fossils. The findings of the study have been published in the recent issue of Science magazine.

Key Highlights

• The molds and casts of the eggs and the bones found by the team will be put on display in China’s National Museum

• The fossils were discovered in 2015-2016 in the northeastern Chinese region of Hami by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

• Some of the embryos were found to be preserved with the bones in a three dimensional condition.

Background

Although scientists have studied pterosaurs for more than two centuries, no eggs were discovered until the early 21st century and in the subsequent years, fewer than a dozen eggs were found.

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Other Details

• Pterosaurs were a group of extinct winged dinosaurs that were the first known vertebrates to be able to fly.

• One of the key contributions of the study was to discover how, at birth, the reptiles had less developed wing bones in comparison to their leg bones, which probably leads to the conclusion that they could not fly until they got a little older.

• According to one of the lead researchers in the study, Brazilian paleontologist Alexander Kellner, “The Pterosaurs could have walked but certainly they were not able to fly at first and so the main contribution of the study is to show that pterosaurs, at birth, required parental care.”

• Among the behavioural characteristics of these animals, the researchers discovered that formed nesting colonies, where several families came to the same sites to lay their eggs and always returned to these areas, implying that they were areas favourable for nest-building.

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