Pterosaurs were the first recorded vertebrates to have evolved the power of flight. With the ability to fly, we can expect them to reach wide places and travel large distances. The question now will be where they laid their eggs around the place as they traveled. The places where they have their egg can be the way to trace where they migrated or roamed in the past aside from the buried fossils.
Where are Pterosaur eggs found? Pterosaur eggs were found mainly in China and Argentina. A big haul of around 300 Pterosaur eggs was excavated in a marsh in China. These egg specimens have different shell characteristics but show a degree of development in the embryo.
Endless discoveries from the world’s vast unexplored lands like fossils from dinosaurs are always fascinating. Today’s scientists and paleontologists have become more curious and have explored many aspects of the Earth’s evolution, including the prehistoric dinosaurs. As we become more curious about dinosaurs’ origin, eggs will come into the story. Dinosaurs are egg-laying, and this is one area with little information. This article will share facts on Pterosaur eggs’ whereabouts and how Pterosaurs lived in the past.
Where Are Pterosaur Eggs Fossils Found?
There are various places on Earth where dinosaur fossils were found, but dinosaur eggs are rare. Here is a list of some of the places with significant records of Pterosaur eggs.
Egg-cellent Places Where Pterosaurs Eggs Were Found
Despite nearly two centuries of pterosaur study, no eggs were discovered until the early 2000s, and there have only been a few dozen discovered since then.
The first two come from China’s Early Cretaceous (Barremian-Aptian) Yixian Formation, while the third came from Argentina’s Early Cretaceous (Aptian) Lagarcito Formation.
The first three-dimensional well-preserved pterosaur egg was discovered in Argentina.
And the first documented pterosaur egg fossil was discovered in France by Jean Jacques Poech.
Around 250-300 well-preserved pterosaur eggs were discovered by Xiaolin Wang from the Chinese Academy of Science. It was one of the biggest haul scientists had in the history of their search for fossilized remains. More than the eggs were also embryos discovered with the possibility of more locked away in the ground.
According to findings, fast-running water causing flooding could have been why the nesting site was buried. The eggs belong to Hamipterus tianshanensis, a pterosaur species that lived in swampy areas of China. These areas are believed to be nesting sites because of the number of eggs found at once. This behavior resembles the nesting behavior of modern birds, where they lay eggs at one place and in one group.
The eggs show different stages of Pterosaur embryo, which gave scientists more information on Pterosaur development. Pterosaur eggs from China and Argentina showed a difference in shell covering, with the former more pliable than Argentina’s find.
Did Pterodactyls Lay Eggs? What Did They Look Like?
Pterodactyls are famous since they are one of the first organisms to develop flight. Similar to other reptiles like dinosaurs, they also lay eggs with structures unique to them.
A Glimpse of Pterodactyls Look and Lifestyle
Pterodactyls belong to the taxonomic order Pterosauria, and they are also winged reptiles. They were identified in 1784 by an Italian scientist Cosimo Collini. Most Pterodactyls were small, but some were massive flying reptiles, including the largest Pterosaurs ever discovered, which had a 12-meter wingspan and stood 3.5 meters tall. Pterodactyls had a wingspan of around 19.5 inches (six meters) on average.
The capacity to fly was one of the Pterodactyls’ distinguishing features, which evolved into powered flight 230 million years ago. Flying allowed pterodactyls to “travel large distances, explore new habitat, elude predators, and swoop down from above to catch their prey.” They flew in the same way that bats and birds do with their forelimbs.
YouTube Video Showing Pterosaur Egg Discovery (2017) in NorthWest China
The pterosaurs had wings formed by a membrane of skin, muscle, and other tissues stretching to their dramatically fourth finger from their ankles. They were coined from the Greek word pteron and sauros, which means “winged lizard.” Neither bats nor birds were close cousins to dinosaurs who evolved separately on the reptile family line or tree branch. They were known to be the first animals after the insects to have the power of flight. They don’t just glide or leap but flap their wings and lift to travel through the air.
Eudimorphodon and Peteinosaurus are both found in Italian Rhamphorychoids were the first pterosaurs, and their deposits were found in the Late Triassic epoch 200 million years ago. They have wings of about 1 meter or about 3 ft. Their bones were lightweight and flexible, thus strengthened by internal struts that helped them flap their wings. (Source)
Pterosaurs are not dinosaurs; although they had also existed 66 million years ago, they are just closely related to each other through both are archosaurs. They were the first vertebrates to fly and the first reptile to take flight as well. (Source)
Understanding Pterosaur Eggs’ Morphology Through Technology
Pterodactyls do not lay hard-shelled eggs. Instead, they lay soft shell ones, which are buried in the moist abandoned ground. The pterodactyl egg is about 7.2 cm long and is thin and pliable. Their eggs are like snakes and lizards but not brittle ones like birds. Their fossilized eggs, buried on the ground, look like deflated balloons than the eggs we crack for our omelets.
Through the power of technology and its advancements, paleontologists and scientists distinguished what pterodactyls’ eggs looked like and uncovered the way they lay eggs through CT scans and X-rays. They were able to study the microstructure of the bones, which helped them understand how these animals grew or evolved.
The CT Scans allowed them to have an X-ray to see what is inside the eggs and their embryos without destroying the precious discovery. It was the first one to be done on a pterosaur egg discovery.
Among the 16 embryos, they have found an assortment in the preserved bones, mainly from its wings and bones. Unlike the discovery in Argentina and China, only a few materials from the skull that appeared in the embryos through a single lower jaw were preserved.
In addition, all of the embryos were incomplete, meaning their bones had been jumbled. As a result, we are still unable to see what they look like until now. Well, at least, we already have a glimpse of how they lived and what they are. And they were able to conclude that the skulls of these types of animals develop later than the other bones in their skeleton. (Source)
Despite the incomplete data and pictures, this recent find would add to recent discoveries on Darwinopterus Pterosaur Egg and Caiuajara Pterosaur Egg.
Where Did Pterodactyls Live? Did Pterodactyls Live in Caves?
The journey of Pterosaurs in many areas means that they have made a stop-over along the way. With many choices in the landscape, they may have chosen a cave as a pit-stop or shelter, also considering good access to food.
Pterodactyls Preferred Habitats and Fossil Implications
Pterodactyls have lived in trees. They have awkward sprawling posture, but they have strong claws, which makes them excellent climbers. Basal Pterosaurs were insectivores or known to be predators of small vertebrates.
They usually live near the sea or waters where they hunted food, and one proof here is the large haul of pterosaur eggs excavated in a wetland area during the Cretaceous period. The presence of eggs in Argentina and China indicates that adults, of course, have lived in these areas. (Source)
Cave as One of Its Shelters
Pterodactyls appear to form big groups, similar to certain modern birds, and their behavior should have been as diverse as that of today’s bird species. Pterosaurs have also been discovered in caves. They resided in various parts of the United States, Guam, China, Japan, England, Germany, France, Tanzania (Africa), and various other locations. (Source)
They may have fed on insects and smaller vertebrates in the caves they use for shelter as meat-eaters. Some fossils are found in caves that are proof of caves as one of their shelters.
The presence of Pterosaur eggs in few places on the planet means that they roamed in this area. Though, there might be a missing link of how they were distributed throughout the world. Fossilized bones and egg remains are just a few of the specimens that gave us a different view of Pterosaurs‘ lifestyle, reproduction, growth, and development. These findings are comparable to modern-day animals. Hence it is a piece of important information to look at the world from a different perspective.