Fossil sensation: Perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo discovered

Fossil sensation: Perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo discovered

fossil sensation
Perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo discovered

A dinosaur egg has been lying in the basement of a natural history museum for ten years. While cleaning, researchers become aware of the object. How spectacular the fossil is becomes clear when the egg is opened.

21 years after a fossilized dinosaur egg was discovered in the southern Chinese province of Ganzhou, researchers take a closer look at the material — and make a striking discovery: Inside the egg is a surprisingly well-preserved skeleton of a dinosaur embryo.

The egg, about 17 cm large, was acquired by the head of a sugar mining company at the turn of the millennium, but then forgotten in a warehouse. It was not until ten years later that the old stock was seen due to construction work that employees of the company’s own Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum identified many of the fossils as dinosaur eggs and discovered the bones that now belong to them. One of them was investigated.

The unborn dinosaur leans into the egg with its head between its wings. It is reminiscent of today’s chicks just before hatching.

(Photo: Imago Images/VCG)

An extraordinary discovery was quickly realized in the form of a Sino-British-Canadian research team. Dinosaur embryos are among the rarest fossils of all, if they are mostly incomplete. Scientists now have their investigation in specialist journal “iScience” Presented. The baby Oviraptosaurus, between 66 and 72 million years old and named “Baby Yinglian”, was apparently about to hatch. It assumed an inclined position previously known only to birds.

Researchers are now wondering whether this behavior may have evolved in dinosaurs known as theropods during the Cretaceous period, 145 to 66 million years ago, which later led to the rise of birds. The position of dinosaurs before birth is similar to that of chickens just before hatching. When stretched, the embryo should measure approximately 27 centimeters from head to tail end.

“We are delighted to have discovered ‘Baby Yingliang’ – it is in excellent condition and helps us answer many questions about the evolution and reproduction of dinosaurs,” writes Fionn Waism Ma of the University of Birmingham.

“This dinosaur embryo in its egg is one of the most beautiful fossils I’ve ever seen,” says his research associate Stephen Brusette from the University of Edinburgh. The tiny dinosaur looked exactly like a baby bird curled up in its egg. ” There is further evidence that many of the traits that characterize today’s birds evolved in the ancestors of earlier dinosaurs,” says Brusette.

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