This story, from last July, is said to be trending at Eurelert:
In the study, published in Scientific Reports, the researchers modelled the flying abilities of hatchlings using previously obtained wing measurements from four established hatchling and embryo fossils from two pterosaur species, Pterodaustro guinazui and Sinopterus dongi. They also compared these wing measurements with those of adults from the same species and compared the strength of the humerus bone, which forms part of the wing, of three hatchlings with those of 22 adult pterosaurs.
Study co-author Dr Mark Witton from the University of Portsmouth said: “Although we’ve known about pterosaurs for over two centuries, we’ve only had fossils of their embryos and hatchlings since 2004. We’re still trying to understand the early stages of life in these animals. One discussion has centred around whether pterosaurs could fly as hatchlings or, like the vast majority of birds and bats, they had to grow a little before they could take wing.
“We found that these tiny animals – with 25 cm wingspans and bodies that could neatly fit in your hand – were very strong, capable fliers. Their bones were strong enough to sustain flapping and take-off, and their wings were ideally shaped for powered (as opposed to gliding) flight. However, they would not have flown exactly like their parents simply because they were so much smaller: flight capabilities are strongly influenced by size and mass, and so pterosaur hatchlings, being hundreds of times smaller than their parents, were likely slower, more agile fliers than the wide-ranging, but less manoeuvrable adults.”University of Portsmouth, “Newly-hatched pterosaurs may have been able to fly” at Eurekalert (July 22, 2021)
The big mystery isn’t why early, easy escape would be an advantage but why birds and bats never found a way to do it. But we shall see.
The paper is open access.