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Friday, January 21, 2022

Meet ‘Baby Yingliang’, a well-preserved dinosaur embryo discovered inside fossilised egg

Oviraptorosaurs lived during the Cretaceous period(145 to 66 million years ago) in Asia and North America.

By: Science Desk | Kochi |
December 22, 2021 2:38:31 pm
dinosaur-egg-and-embryoDinosaur egg and embryo reconstruction (Julius Csotonyi via University of Birmingham )

From the rocks of Ganzhou in southern China, researchers have discovered a 72-to 66-million-year-old embryo inside a fossilised dinosaur egg. The embryo, named ‘Baby Yingliang’ belongs to a toothless theropod dinosaur group called oviraptorosaur. Oviraptorosaurs lived during the Cretaceous period(145 to 66 million years ago) in Asia and North America.

The most interesting find was the posture of the embryo. The team writes that “its head lies below the body, with the feet on either side and the back curled along the blunt end of the egg.”

This posture is similar to that seen in modern-day bird embryos. One of the authors Professor Steve Brusatte from the University of Edinburgh said in a release: “This dinosaur embryo inside its egg is one of the most beautiful fossils I have ever seen. This little prenatal dinosaur looks just like a baby bird curled in its egg, which is yet more evidence that many features characteristic of today’s birds first evolved in their dinosaur ancestors.”

Their findings were published in iScience. The embryo was found inside a 17-cm long egg and the creature is estimated to be 27 cm long from head to tail. The specimen is now housed in China’s Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum.

Fion Waisum Ma, the joint first author and PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham, said in a release: “Dinosaur embryos are some of the rarest fossils and most of them are incomplete with the bones dislocated. We are very excited about the discovery of ‘Baby Yingliang’ – it is preserved in great condition and helps us answer a lot of questions about dinosaur growth and reproduction with it…It is interesting to see this dinosaur embryo and a chicken embryo pose in a similar way inside the egg, which possibly indicates similar prehatching behaviours.”

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