The discovery's implications are still open to debate. CAS paleontologist Xiaolin Wang was the lead author of the paper in the journal Science, which announced this big find. In it, he and his co-authors suggest that the site may have a lot to say about pterosaur parenting. As Wang and his colleagues point out, some of the embryos lack teeth and their wing bones seem underdeveloped. The paleontologists think this could mean that newly hatched Hamipterus could neither fly nor eat solid food. Thus, they would have had to depend upon their parents for protection and sustenance.
Other scientists have disagreed with that conclusion. In present-day reptiles, teeth are one of the last things embryos develop. So, while these developing pterosaurs were toothless, they still might have grown some chompers before hatching. Also, according to Michael Habib, a pterosaur specialist at the University of California, the fetal wings appear quite robust, meaning the newborns might've been able to start flying right away.
A point of consensus among paleontologists, though, is that pterosaurs probably didn't brood their eggs like present-day birds. For one thing, as Hone told us, the extinct reptiles "simply could not sit like birds" due to the anatomical differences. Also, while pterosaurs were coated with a strange, fuzzy material, they lacked feathers, which roosting avians use to keep their clutches nice and warm.
S. Christopher Bennett of Fort Hays State University in Kansas, another leading expert in modern pterosaur science, agrees. "There is no evidence, and no reason to think, that pterosaurs incubated their eggs," he said via email. "Rather they probably deposited them in sands, soils or vegetable matter like modern reptiles."
In the past, Bennett has championed the idea that at least some pterosaurs formed nesting groups "near environments suitable for the hatchlings to feed and grow safely." He says he feels the new Hamipterus site may lend some credence to that notion — a sentiment shared by Wang and his co-authors. "Careful excavation of [pterosaur egg deposits] could certainly provide evidence as to whether eggs were buried, and ... whether pterosaurs reused nesting sites year after year," Bennett adds.