They have called it “Baby Yingliang” and it is the best preserved dinosaur embryo that has been achieved to date. Discovered in Ganzhou, in southern China, it belongs to a toothless theropod dinosaur or ovirraptorosaurus. A fossil between 66 and 72 million years old that gives many clues about how similar dinosaurs were to modern birds.
The embryo has been found in a coiled position known as “folded”, which is the position that birds take before they are born. A position hitherto unknown in dinosaurs and considered exclusive to birds.
A perfectly preserved “baby dinosaur”
“We are excited about the discovery of ‘Baby Yingliang,’ as it has been preserved in great condition and helps us answer many questions about dinosaur growth and reproduction.” explained Fion Waisum Ma, paleobiologist at the University of Birmingham who has participated in the investigation.
The fossil, found in a rock that belongs to the Cretaceous era, is an egg that contains a full embryo, about 27 centimeters long unfolded. The egg itself is about 17 centimeters long and the dinosaur was hunched like birds to fit inside.
The full analysis has been published in the journal iScience and describe how these dinosaurs performed a series of movements inside the egg, where finally head under right wing, feet on each side, just before birth. A type of position that has not been found in any other dinosaur specimen to date.
“It’s an incredible specimen … I’ve been working on dinosaur eggs for 25 years and hadn’t seen anything like it,” explains Darla Zelenitsky, a professor of geoscience at the University of Calgary and a co-author of the research. A dinosaur egg with a complete embryo that has allowed us to study in unprecedented detail what the embryonic state of dinosaurs was like.
“Baby dinosaur bones are so small and fragile that they are rarely preserved as fossils“explains Zelenitsky.” It is one of the most impressive and beautiful dinosaur fossils I have ever seen in my life “, aim paleontologist Steve Brusatte.
The oviraptor, if it had grown, would have reached between 2.5 and 3 meters. This ‘Baby Yingliang’ fossil was acquired in 2000 by Liang Liu, director of the Yingliang Group company, from which it is named. But nevertheless, the fossil was stored and largely forgotten, until during the construction of the Yingliang Stone Museum of Natural History it was recovered and they noticed the details of the embryo.
A study that shows the great connection of dinosaurs with modern birds and suggests that the behavior inside the egg that we considered exclusive of birds could have originated much earlier, among their ancestors the dinosaurs.
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