Fion Waisum Ma, a University of Birmingham experimenter who co-authored a report in the journal iScience, remarked, “It is one of the best dinosaur embryos ever found in history.”
On Tuesday, scientists revealed the finding of an excellently preserved dinosaur embryo dating back at least 66 million years that was almost to hatch from its egg-like chicken.
The toothless theropod dinosaur was discovered in Ganzhou, southern China, and was christened “Baby Yingliang” by the experimenters.
Fion Waisum Ma, a University of Birmingham experimenter who co-authored an article in the journal iScience, told AFP, “It is one of the best dinosaur embryos ever found in history.”
Baby Yingliang’s head was discovered below its body, with its feet on either side and back curved, a posture is not before seen in dinosaurs but similar to modern birds, according to Ma and colleagues.
The practise is known as “tucking” in birds and is managed by the central nervous system. Chicks who are about to hatch bury their heads under their right-wing to keep their heads stable while cracking the shell with their beak.
Embryos that do not tuck have a higher likelihood of dying throughout the hatching process.
“This suggests that modern birds’ behaviour evolved and began among their dinosaur forebears,” Ma added.
An alternative to tucking could have been something more akin to what current crocodiles do, which sit with their heads bowed against their chest until they hatch.
Forgotten in storage
Oviraptorosaurs, which means “egg thief lizards,” were feathered dinosaurs that lived during the Late Cretaceous period in what is now Asia and North America.
They had a wide diversity of beak shapes and diets, and their sizes ranged from little current turkeys to huge Gigantoraptors that were eight metres (26 feet) long.
The Yingling Stone Nature History Museum’s baby Yingliang is roughly 27 centimetres (10.6 inches) long from head to tail and is housed in a 17 centimetre-long egg.
The organism is thought to be between 72 and 66 million years old and was most likely preserved by a rapid mudslide that buried the egg and protected it for ages from scavengers.
If it had lived to adulthood, it would have grown to be two to three metres long and would have eaten vegetation.
The egg fossil was one of several that had languished in storage for decades.
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