Perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo found in egg — Analysis
The back of Chinese museum has rediscovered a perfectly preserved fossil, which is a baby dinosaur, wrapped up in its egg. This discovery sheds light on the relationships between Mesozoic-era birds and the creatures that lived there.
Scientists hailed Tuesday’s publication of a paper describing the significance of discovering the embryo of oviraptorid Theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous.
Baby Yingliang was given the nickname after the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum, where the fossil is 70 million years old. The Chinese firm that subventions the museum purchased the fossil in 2000. It was then forgotten for over two decades until the museum staff discovered it.
Darla Zelenitsky, an associate geoscience professor at Canada’s University of Calgary, who co-authored the paper, said it was incredibly rare to find baby dinosaur bones, so this particularly find was extraordinary.
“It is an amazing specimen … I have been working on dinosaur eggs for 25 years and have yet to see anything like it,”CNN spoke with Zelenitsky. “Up until now, little has been known of what was going on inside a dinosaur’s egg prior to hatching, as there are so few embryonic skeletons, particularly those that are complete and preserved in a life pose.”
From head to tail, the egg measures 7in (17 cm) in length. The baby dinosaur is estimated to measure 11in (27 cm). The researchers – who hail from the UK, Canada, and China – contended that Baby Yingliang would have been moving around inside it before hatching, similar to modern-day birds.
Analysis of the egg shows that the dinosaur’s posture was also similar to that of a late-stage modern bird embryo, suggesting that avian tucking behavior – a reference to the protective head-under-wing position adopted by birds a few days before hatching from the shell – may have originated among non-avian theropods.
This behavior had been previously thought to be unique to birds. “We were surprised to see this embryo beautifully preserved inside a dinosaur egg, lying in a bird-like posture. This posture had not been recognized in non-avian dinosaurs before,” paleobiologist Waisum Ma, of the UK’s University of Birmingham, who led the project, said in a statement.