Scientists discovered a perfectly preserved dinosaur embryo that was preparing to be born, just as animals such as chickens do.
It was discovered in Ganzhou, a city in southern China, and researchers estimate that it is at least 66 million years old.
It is believed to have been from a toothless theropod dinosaur or an ovirraptosaurus. Experts have called him Baby Yingliang.
Fion Waisum Ma, one of the scientists associated with the discovery, said that it is “The best dinosaur embryo ever found.”
The discovery has also given researchers a greater understanding of the link between dinosaurs and modern birds. The fossil shows that the embryo was in a coiled position known as “folding,” which is a behavior seen in birds shortly before they hatch.
“This indicates that such behavior in modern birds evolved and originated for the first time among their dinosaur ancestors.”Ma told the AFP news agency.
This is part of an embryo’s coordinated dance to prepare itself to break through its egg and enter the world. Tucking is essential for a successful hatch. (art here by Shoulin). pic.twitter.com/iHalzJ1ClH
– Steve Brusatte (@SteveBrusatte) December 21, 2021
Ovirraptorosaurs, which means “egg-thieving lizards,” were feathered dinosaurs that lived in what is now Asia and North America during the late Cretaceous period, some 100 to 66 million years ago.
Paleontologist Steve Brusatte, who was also part of the research team, tweeted that it was “one of the most impressive dinosaur fossils” he had ever seen and that the embryo was about to hatch.
Baby Yingliang is 27 cm long from head to tail and rests inside a 17 cm long egg found in the Yingliang Stone Museum of Natural History in China.
The egg was discovered in 2000, but it was stored for 10 years.
It was only when construction work began at the museum and the ancient fossils were classified, that researchers turned their attention to the egg, which they suspected contained an embryo inside.
Part of the dinosaur’s body is still covered in rocks, and the researchers will use advanced scanning techniques to create an image of its full skeleton.2
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