The most intact dinosaur embryo discovered in Southern China

Have you watched the Jurassic Park franchise? What a ridiculous question! Who hasn’t?

Β Did that thought just cross your mind?

But anyway for the uninitiated, the franchise focuses on the resurrection of dinosaurs and the events that unfold afterward.

What’s the purpose of all these film stories in a science article? You are right if that question popped up in your mind.

The latest news from the science field puts everything in perspective. The paleontologists from the University of Birmingham have discovered an intact dinosaur embryo in a fossilized egg in Southern China. It’s one of the most well-preserved dinosaur embryos ever discovered. Isn’t that astonishing?

Intact dinosaur embryos are rare and most of the obtained embryos have dislocated bones. Obtaining an intact dinosaur embryo can shed much light into the field of dinosaur growth and development.

The features of the skeleton suggest that it’s an oviraptorid.Β  Oviraptorid is a group of bird-like dinosaurs that can be herbivorous or omnivorous. They are close relatives of modern birds.

The egg dates back to about 66 million to 72 million years ago. It’s named β€˜Baby Yingliang.’ The name is derived from the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum in Xiamen.

The skeleton of the embryo is 24cm long. It lies curled up inside a 17cm long, 8cm wide egg. Analysis has shown that the embryo was close to hatching when it was fossilized.

The posture of the embryo is of great scientific interest. The skeleton shows that the embryo has its head below the body. Its back is curled into the egg’s blunt end with the feet present on either side. This peculiar posture is called tucking.

Modern bird embryos also adopt a similar tucking posture just before hatching to protect themselves during hatching. Tucking is an embryonic behavior controlled by the central nervousnervous system. It is crucial for success during hatching. It was earlier thought that the posture first evolved in modern-day birds. But the discovery suggests that that might not be the case. The posture might have first evolved in dinosaurs much earlier. But arriving at a conclusion might require more studies to be conducted.

By Gayatri S

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