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A wonderfully preserved dinosaur embryo has been discovered inside a fossilized egg that was virtually forgotten in a Chinese storage facility for 10 years.
“It is one of the best-preserved dinosaur embryos ever reported to science,” University of Birmingham co-principal investigator Fion Waisum Ma said, told Live Science.
The 70-million-year-old dinosaur child named Baby Yingliang shed new light on the hyperlink between fashionable birds and their historical ancestors.
Baby Yingliang was practically ready to hatch before the egg was buried and turned into stone, which was unearthed by Chinese mining company Yingliang Group in 2000.
The rare find went unnoticed for more than a decade before researchers excavated stored stones, where they saw numerous fragile bones contained in the egg discovered through a crack in the shell.
This is the first time that a dinosaur associated with fashionable birds has been found curled up in the egg in a fetal position with its head between the toes – the same as unhatched chickens today.
Now, scientists have determined that the fold is a descendant trait of dinosaurs, in the journal iScience published on Tuesday.
“The discovery of this embryo suggests that certain pre-hatching behaviors, such as folding, that were previously thought to be unique to birds, may be ingrained more deeply in dinosaurs tens or hundreds of millions of years ago. “said Ma.
Baby Yingliang is a kind of oviraptorosaur, which was a beaked therapy dinosaur carefully associated with the fashionable birds that lived about 130 to 66 million years ago.
Researchers imagine that if Baby Yingliang had survived, he could have been between two and three meters long.
“This skeleton is not only complete from the tip of the muzzle to the tip of its tail, it is coiled in a pose of life in its egg as if the animal had died yesterday,” said Darla Zelenitsky, co-investigator of the ‘University of Calgary.
“Prior to this research, we actually didn’t know how dinosaurs were positioned on their eggs, because earlier fossil embryos were too fragmented.
“Now we can see pretty well that the oviraptorid dinosaurs had postures similar to birds when they incubated inside their eggs.”
According to Zelenitsky, the same type of dinosaurs sat on their eggs to incubate them like fashionable birds.