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Pterosaur Eggs by the Dozen Found in China

Image: Pterosaur Eggs by the Dozen Found in China

A pterodactyl, the common term for the winged reptiles properly called pterosaurs, at the Field Museum in Chicago. (Jim Roberts/Dreamstime)

By    |   Friday, 01 December 2017 07:33 AM

Pterosaur eggs by the dozen were found in northwestern China by scientists over a 10-year span, giving researchers new clues into the prehistoric flying reptiles' nesting behaviors and development.

The researchers collected the 215 well-preserved eggs in the Turpan-Hami Basin from 2006 to 2016, National Public Radio reported on Thursday. The study into the research was published in the journal Science.

Pterosaurs were large, ferocious-looking reptiles with wingspans up to 13 feet and teeth-filled jaws, NPR said, and they lived during the Lower Cretaceous period alongside dinosaurs.

"Furthermore, the overlaying of multiple clutches suggests that the pterosaurs may have exhibited breeding site fidelity, similar to rookery-breeding seabirds," the researchers said in Science. "Thus, the similarity between these two groups goes beyond wings.

"… Computed tomography scanning, osteohistology, and micropreparation reveal that some bones lack extensive ossification in potentially late-term embryos, suggesting that hatchlings might have been flightless and less precocious than previously assumed," the study said.

Alexander W.A. Kellner, a paleontologist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told The New York Times that the site appears to be a major nesting place for the fearsome creatures.

"I remember looking at the specimens and saying that's not possible,” Kellner, one of the study's authors, told the Times. "We had less than 10 eggs before and now we have found hundreds in one spot."

The Times said Xiaolin Wang, a paleontologist at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, fond the eggs in a 120-million-year-old pterosaur boneyard in China's Gobi Desert.

Scientists believe that area at the time pterosaurs thrived was a rich lakeshore and that a storm possibly washed the eggs into the water, the Times said, allowing the eggs and other pterosaur bones to be buried and preserved for millions of years.

"If you were to tell me a year before that someone would find hundreds of pterosaur eggs at one spot I would have said 'Yeah, yeah get out of here. Not even in your dreams,'" Kellner told the Times. "But here we are."

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Pterosaur eggs by the dozen were found in northwestern China by scientists over a 10-year span, giving researchers new clues into the prehistoric flying reptiles' nesting behaviors and development.
pterosaur, eggs, found, china
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2017-33-01
Friday, 01 December 2017 07:33 AM
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