Is it possible that non-avian dinosaurs nest in small self-dug, or captured caves? and if yes, what species would be suitable for this behavior?
These were the questions which grew into my mind when I thought about nest forms.
I finally choose Epidexipteryx. Why?
Let's begin with the enviroment of E. hui. The specimen was found in china, inner mongolia, within the Daohugou beds which are between 168 and 152 million years old. It was a wet ecosystem with lakes and streams, it was the home of the first known aquatic mammel, Castorocauda, which was maybe also a digging animal.
Vulcanic ashes are known from the fossil beds, a material which may form huge river banks and small canyons, here a example: [link]
Epidenxipteryx may used such walls to build it's own holes. The animal is really small (25 cm without the tailfeahters) and light (160 g). The long fingers and possible presence of grasping claws, like Epidendrosaurs (I would have chosen this species, but we just know juveniles), make a climbing lifestyle practicable. The teeth are not visible here because I cover them with lips (inspired by Quilongs Masiakasaurus
) but they were huge for a animal of this size and may help to dig into the clay of the cliff. In addition a short tail, like found at Epidenxipteryx, could be usefull; even if I have reconstructed the animal here with the iconic four tail feathers it's possible that these were just seasonal phenomenons which disappear after mating.
I have this drawing since two weeks but until now I find no way to bring it in a digital form (it's larger than the other pics for the All Yesterdays contest).
But it fits better now, after submitting the nesting pterosaurs and because of this Cryolophosaurus which arrive today on DA: [link]