The perfectly preserved baby dinosaur was discovered curled up inside its egg

By Katie Hunt, CNN

The unprecedented fossil of a baby dinosaur perfectly curled inside its egg is shedding more light on the connection between dinosaurs and birds.

The 70-million-year-old fossil holds the embryonic skeleton of an oviraptorid dinosaur, nicknamed Baby Yingliang after the Chinese museum where the fossil is kept. Darla Zelenitsky, an associate professor in the department of geosciences at the University of Calgary in Canada, said baby dinosaur bones were very small and fragile and were rarely preserved as fossils, making this a very fortunate find.

“It’s an amazing specimen… I’ve been studying dinosaur eggs for 25 years and still haven’t seen anything,” said Zelenitsky, co-author of the study published in the journal iScience on Tuesday. like it”.

“Until now, very little was known about what was going on inside a dinosaur’s egg before it hatched, as there are very few embryonic skeletons, especially those of a dinosaur,” she said in an email. complete and preserved in a living position.

The egg was about 17 centimeters (7 inches) long and the dinosaur was estimated to be 27 centimeters (11 inches) long from head to tail. The researchers believe that as an adult, if it was alive, it would have been about 2-3 meters long.

Researchers from China, the UK and Canada studied the location of Baby Yingliang and other previously found oviraptorid embryos. They concluded that dinosaurs moved and changed posture before hatching in a similar way to baby birds.

In modern birds, such movements are associated with a behavior called tucking, which is controlled by the central nervous system and is important for successful hatching.

“Most known non-avian dinosaur embryos are incomplete with undifferentiated skeletons Waisum Ma, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Birmingham, UK, said in a statement.

“We were surprised to find this embryo beautifully preserved inside a dinosaur egg, lying in a bird-like posture. This posture has not been recognized in non-avian dinosaurs before. “

All birds evolved directly from a group of bipedal dinosaurs known as arthropods, whose members include the towering Tyrannosaurus rex and the small-vesseled animals. than.

Pre-hatching behavior isn’t the only behavior modern birds have inherited from their dinosaur ancestors. Similar dinosaurs are known to have sat on top of their eggs to hatch them in a similar way to birds, Zelenitsky said.

The fossil was found in Jiangxi province, China, and was acquired in 2000 by Liang Liu, the director of a Chinese stone company called Yingliang Group. It was eventually put into storage, largely forgotten until about 10 years later, when museum staff sorted through the boxes and unearthed fossils during the construction of the Yingliang Stone Museum of Natural History. The museum is subsidized by the company.

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https://kesq.com/news/2021/12/21/perfectly-preserved-baby-dinosaur-discovered-curled-up-inside-its-egg/ The perfectly preserved baby dinosaur was discovered curled up inside its egg


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