Dinosaur Embryo Discovered Inside Fossilized Oviraptorosaur Egg
According to a new study, a 72 to 66 million-year-old embryo discovered inside a fossilized dinosaur egg sheds new light on the relationship between modern bird behavior and that of dinosaurs.
The ‘Baby Yingliang’ embryo was discovered in the Late rocks of Ganzhou, southern China, and it belongs to a toothless theropod dinosaur called an oviraptorosaur.
The fossil suggests that these dinosaurs developed bird-like postures close to hatching, as it is one of the most complete dinosaur embryos ever discovered.
The posture of ‘Baby Yingliang’ is unique among known dinosaur embryos, with the head below the body, feet on either side, and back curled along the blunt end of the egg, according to scientists.
This posture is similar to that of modern bird embryos, and was previously unknown in dinosaurs.
Such postures are linked to ‘tucking,’ a behavior controlled by the central nervous system and crucial for hatching success in modern birds.
Researchers believe that pre-hatching behavior, which was previously thought to be unique to birds, may have evolved among non-avian theropods after studying egg and embryo.
The research team from China, the United Kingdom, and Canada, led by scientists from the and China University of Geosciences (Beijing), published their findings in iScience today.
The embryo remains articulated in its life position despite the effects of fossilization.
The creature, which is estimated to be 27 cm long from head to tail, is trapped inside a 17-cm-long elongatoolithid egg.
The specimen is on display at the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum in Yingliang, China.
“Dinosaur embryos are some of the rarest fossils, and most of them are incomplete with the bones dislocated,” said Fion Waisum Ma, co-first author and PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham.
We’re ecstatic about the discovery of ‘Baby Yingliang,’ which is in excellent condition and will help us answer a lot of questions about dinosaur growth and reproduction.
“It’s interesting to see how this dinosaur embryo and a chicken embryo both pose in the egg in a similar way, which could indicate similar prehatching behaviors.”
The deep, toothless skull of ‘Baby Yingliang’ led to the classification of an oviraptorosaur.
Oviraptorosaurs are a group of feathered theropod dinosaurs that lived in Asia and North America during the Cretaceous period. They are closely related to modern-day birds.
Because of their varied beak shapes and body sizes, they were likely able to eat a variety of diets, including herbivory, omnivory, and carnivory.