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Pterosaur Nests

October 6, 2015

Did pterosaurs really build giant nests?



Life_restoration_of_a_group_of_giant_azhdarchids,_Quetzalcoatlus_northropi,_foraging_on_a_Cretaceous_fern_prairie CC BY 3.0

Quetzalcoatlus ruled the skies during the late Cretaceous, but left fossil evidence that it also walked on land. But so far, no one has discovered fossil evidence of this, or any other pterosaur’s nest. (Witton MP, Naish D/PLoS ONE/ doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002271)

Were giant pterosaur nests real? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In science fiction films and cartoons, prehistoric winged pterosaurs brood their young in giant nests, the way birds do. A Science Update listener phoned our toll-free line—1-800-WHY-ISIT—to ask if it’s accurate. Paleontologist Joe Sertich at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science says no one knows.

JOE SERTICH (Denver Museum of Nature and Science):

We don’t really have a good record of pterosaur nesting behavior and that’s because pterosaurs themselves are really special, it’s amazing that we even get their fossils in the record, because they’re so delicate and it takes a very special set of circumstances to preserve a pterosaur, let alone its nest and nesting behavior.


He says the only nests that leave fossils are those that are dug in the ground. If you have a science question, call us at 1-800-WHY-ISIT or email us from I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.