Hundreds of dinosaur eggs have been discovered over the years, but rarely do archaeologists come across one in which the fetus has a fully developed bone structure.
That’s so far … A discovery in southern China prompted a team of international researchers to conduct a study that challenges existing theories about how birds developed their breeding technique.
Scientists from China, Great Britain and Canada published the results in the international journal iScience. And the results have amazed dinosaur experts around the world.
The fossil was discovered in Ganzhou, southern China, and is dated to the Late Cretaceous more than 66 million years ago. It is an unhatched oviraptorosaur, a dinosaur with unproven connections to the birds’ early ancestors.
The scientists found that the position of the fetus is exactly that of modern birds, allowing them to break out of their shells. The pose is known as “tucking in”, in which the legs are folded on either side of the head and the back is curled up along the large end of the egg.
Thanks to the discovery, researchers believe that this pre-hatching behavior, which was previously thought to be unique to birds, may have originated from dinosaurs such as the oviraptorosaur.
The Latin name means “egg thief lizard” and roamed the continents of Asia and North America during the Cretaceous period, where it was known for its characteristic parrot-like beak.
Scientists have named the embryo Baby Yingliang, and Steve Brusatte, who was part of the research team, described the discovery as “one of the most beautiful fossils I have ever seen”.
Brusatte, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, said, “This tiny prenatal dinosaur looks like a baby bird curled up in its egg, which is further evidence that many of the features that are characteristic of birds today are mutually exclusive first evolved in their dinosaur ancestors. “