Fossilised dinosaur embryo found exquisitely preserved inside egg

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A 70 million-year-old oviraptorosaur ovum that had been forgotten successful a Chinese depository storeroom contains the astir well-preserved dinosaur embryo ever discovered

Life 21 December 2021

By Alice Klein

The fossilised oviraptorosaur dinosaur embryo curled up   successful  its egg

The fossilised oviraptorosaur dinosaur embryo curled up successful its egg

Xing et al., 2021

A fossilised dinosaur embryo discovered successful confederate China whitethorn beryllium the astir well-preserved ever uncovered.

The dinosaur ovum containing the embryo had languished for much than a decennary successful a storeroom successful Yingliang Stone Natural History Museum successful Nan’an, China, until 2015, erstwhile a unit subordinate noticed bones sticking retired of the ammunition and wondered if it whitethorn incorporate an unhatched dinosaur.

“The depository realised it indispensable beryllium an important specimen, truthful they contacted america to look astatine the egg,” says Waisum Ma astatine the University of Birmingham successful the UK. “We were amazed to spot this embryo beautifully preserved inside.”

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The unhatched dinosaur’s 24-centimetre-long skeleton is curled wrong the egg, with its caput tucked tightly into its body. The ovum is 17 centimetres agelong and 8 centimetres wide.

Features of the skeleton suggest it is an oviraptorid – a two-legged dinosaur that had a bird-like caput and feathers.

The ovum appears to beryllium 72 to 66 cardinal years old. It was astir apt buried rapidly successful soil oregon mud to let its singular preservation, says Ma. “It is precise uncommon to find dinosaur embryos, particularly ones that are intact,” she says.

A reconstruction of an oviraptorosaur dinosaur embryo that is adjacent  to hatching

A reconstruction of an oviraptorosaur dinosaur embryo that is adjacent to hatching

Lida Xing

The embryos of modern birds besides follow a tucked posture to support themselves for hatching. This suggests the posture archetypal evolved successful dinosaurs, not successful modern birds arsenic was antecedently thought, says Ma. “We’ve ne'er had embryos well-preserved capable to spot this before,” she says.

Little is known astir the egg’s origins, but that it was recovered successful Shahe Industrial Park successful Ganzhou City successful confederate China and donated to the depository successful 2000. “We’re not definite however it was archetypal discovered but we conjecture it was thing related to operation work,” says Ma.

Journal reference: iScience, DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.103516

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