The specimen named ‘Baby Yingliang’ was found in China.
The world’s most perfectly preserved baby dinosaur has been found in a fossilised egg in China.
The specimen dubbed ‘Baby Yingliang’ was discovered in Ganzhou in southern China and researchers estimate it is 72 million years old. The exquisitely preserved embryo showed the baby dinosaur ‘lying like a bird’ in a distinctive tucked posture.
The egg was first uncovered in 2000 but put into storage for 10 years until the curator of the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum, Kecheng Niu saw some bones on the broken section of an egg and arranged for fossil preparation.
The process involves removing the rocky matrix surrounding the bones and cleaning the fossil so it can be studied. This revealed the embryo’s entire skeleton.
An international team of palaeontologists were then invited by the museum to examine the fossil. Their findings have been published in a new paper published in the journal iScience.
The embryo is thought to belong to a toothless theropod dinosaur called the Oviraptorosaur (Credits: Xing et al. / SWNS)
Researcher Dr Fion Waisum Ma called it ‘the best dinosaur embryo ever found in history’. This was probably due to a sudden mudslide that buried it, protecting it from scavengers.
Palaeontologist Prof Steve Brusatte who was also part of the research team tweeted that the embryo that was on the brink of hatching was ‘one of the most stunning dinosaur fossils’ he had ever seen.
It’s one of the most stunning dinosaur fossils I’ve ever seen. But it’s also important: it tells us that the ‘tucking postures’ of today’s birds–in which they curl their head under their arms and legs before hatching–first evolved in their dinosaur ancestors. pic.twitter.com/Oc1An63E4J
— Steve Brusatte (@SteveBrusatte) December 21, 2021
The embryo is thought to belong to a toothless theropod dinosaur called the Oviraptorosaur. Oviraptorosaur which means ‘egg thief lizards’, were feathered dinosaurs that lived in what is now Asia and North America during the late Cretaceous period between 100 million to 66 million years ago.
The fossil shows the dinosaur embryo in a curled position known as ‘tucking’, a behaviour unique to modern birds that boosts survival. The fossilised embryo showed the head below the body, feet on either side and its back curled along the blunt end of the shell.
‘This indicates that such behaviour in modern birds first evolved and originated among their dinosaur ancestors,’ Dr Ma told AFP.
Baby Yingliang measures 10.6in (27cm) long from head to tail and rests inside a 6.7 inch-long egg at the Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum in China.
Part of the dinosaur’s body is still covered by rock and researchers will use advanced scanning techniques to create an image of its full skeleton.
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Source by metro.co.uk