Incredibly rare dinosaur fossil discovery stuns scientists

Dec 27, 2021
A recent fossil discovery has shed more light on the connection between dinosaurs and birds. Source: Getty Images.

In a scene reminiscent of the blockbuster film Jurassic Park, scientists have discovered an unprecedented fossil of a baby dinosaur that has provided greater insight into the link between dinosaurs and birds.

The 70 million-year-old fossil, still curled up perfectly inside its egg, is the embryonic skeleton of an oviraptorid dinosaur. The Chinese museum which is housing the incredibly rare fossil have nicknamed the dinosaur “Baby Yingliang”. The fossil was found in China’s Jiangxi province.

The egg is an ovoid shape with dimensions of 16.7 cm long by 7.6 cm wide and the skeleton is almost complete, baby dinosaur bones are small and usually fragile making it a lucky find.

University of Calgary Associate professor in the department of geoscience, Darla Zelenitsky told CNN that the fossil was “an amazing specimen”.

“I have been working on dinosaur eggs for 25 years and have yet to see anything like it,” she said.

“Up until now, little has been known of what was going on inside a dinosaur’s egg prior to hatching, as there are so few embryonic skeletons, particularly those that are complete and preserved in a life pose.”

Researchers concluded dinosaurs were moving and changing poses before hatching in a way similar to modern-day baby birds.

Waisum Ma, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Birmingham said in a statement it was a surprise “to see this embryo beautifully preserved inside a dinosaur egg, lying in a bird-like posture”.

“This posture had not been recognised in non-avian dinosaurs before,” he said.

Birds directly evolved from two-legged dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex and inherited not only pre-hatching behaviour from their pre-historic ancestors but also the process of sitting on eggs to incubate them.

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