“Extraordinary.” “Stellar.” “Truly awesome.” “A world-class find.”
That’s how paleontologists are reacting to the discovery of several hundred ridiculously well-preserved pterosaur eggs in China, some of them still containing the remains of embryos.
“My first thought was extreme jealousy,” said David Unwin, a pterosaur expert and paleobiologist at the University of Leicester. “Really.”
To understand why Unwin and others are freaking out about the discovery, published Thursday in the journal Science, you have to first appreciate how rare pterosaur eggs are.
The pterosaurs were an order of flying reptiles that went extinct some 66 million years ago. They were not actually dinosaurs, but they went extinct at the same time. Along with bats and birds, they are the only vertebrates to truly fly. And though these creatures lorded over the skies for around 162 million years, only a handful of pterosaur egg fossils have ever been unearthed. And of those, paleontologists have just six …